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Indonesia News Digest 12 – March 23-31, 2018

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West Papua

Papuan students hold screening of Kenyan film, 40 police show up to

Coconuts Jakarta - March 29, 2018

Many Papuans face severe racism and discrimination throughout the rest of Indonesia, especially Papuan students in other parts of the country who often have to face completely unfounded suspicions of radicalism – so much so that they can't even have a simple movie night without attracting the attention of the police.

That was the case in Surabaya on Tuesday, when the local chapter of the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) organized a group movie screening and discussion on the film "The First Grader".

Despite the film not even having anything to do with Papua or the country's political situation (it's based on the true story of an 84-year-old Kenyan farmer who enrolled in elementary school for the first time following his government's announcement of free universal primary education in 2003) the mere idea of Papuan students gathering to watch and discuss a movie about "black people" was apparently enough of a justification for the Surabaya police to send 40 officers to "secure" the event.

Tambaksari Police Chief Prayitno said the response was necessary because there were, as Tempo put it in their report, "indications the film was about black skin people".

"The film is contrary to our culture and the culture of the nationalism" Priyatno said when contacted by the news outlet on Tuesday night, adding that the police presence was necessary to "anticipate the ideology of the Papuan people."

Priyanto was likely referring to the separatists movement in Papua. And while advocating and supporting separatists movements in Indonesia is illegal, the police had no evidence that Tuesday's movie event had anything to do with that.

The Surabaya Legal Aid Institute (LBH Surabaya) criticized the police's decision to send officers to the event as a human rights violation, stating that such actions (which authorities have done on multiple occasions previously) were caused by the stigmatization of Papuan students

"There are excessive fears by security forces whenever activities are done by Papuan students," LBH Surabaya representative Hosnan told Tempo.

Hosnan said freedom of expression, including discussions and film events, were the right of all Indonesian citizens, adding that "The First Grader" was not in any way contrary to Indonesia's state ideology.

Despite the police's seeming attempt to intimidate the student participants, the film screening and discussion eventually took place as planned.

But we shudder to think what police might do if the student group decides to hold a screening of Black Panther at some point in the future...

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/papuan-students-surabaya-hold-screening-kenyan-film-40-police-show-guard-event/

Demo at Freeport office in Jakarta calls for self-determination for West

Tirto.id - March 29, 2018

Tony Firman – Calls for West Papuan self-determination were prominent during a demonstration in front of the offices of PT Freeport Indonesia in the Kuningan area of South Jakarta on Thursday March 29.

The action was held by around 70 or so protesters from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) who held the demonstration to demand the closure of the Freeport copper and gold mine in Papua.

FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta said that the international community must take a position on the forced incorporation of West Papua into the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

"Since May 1, 1963 until now, West Papua's was removed from Holland's decolonisation list without the West Papuan people knowledge", said Surya.

Surya also accused Freeport of being an entry point for the colonisation of West Papua on the grounds that the first work contract between Freeport and Indonesia was signed in 1967.

Meanwhile the Act of Free Choice (Pepera) which resulted in the incorporation of West Papua into the NKRI was held in 1969. Surya said that the Pepera was manipulated and undemocratic.

Dorlince Iyowau, a resident of Timika who took part in the action, added that Freeport's presence in Papua has not brought prosperity or peace to the West Papuan people.

"Violence against the people and damage to the environment by waste tailings discarded into the Ajkwa River is a concrete form of Freeport's colonial presence", said Dorlince.

In a press release received by Tirto, the FRI-WP and the AMP made nine demands, three of which were the closure of PT Freeport, the withdrawal of the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (National Police) from Papua and self-determination for the people of Papua.

The release also stated that based on a report by the Papuan Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (Elsham) in 2002, numerous cases of violence have been committed by security forces in Papua.

The report notes that thousands of people have died, scores have disappeared and hundreds more have been arrested and tortured. In addition to this, it also notes places of worship that have been burnt down, villages and other locations that have been destroyed, many of which have yet to be properly documented.

The demonstrators began leaving the Freeport offices at around 3.15 pm. Similar actions are planned to take place simultaneously on April 7 in several different cities including Yogyakarta and Semarang (Central Java), Bandung (West Java), Surabaya and Malang (East Java), Makassar (South Sulawesi), Palu (Central Sulawesi), Ternate (North Maluku) and Papua itself.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Demo di Kantor Freeport Juga Serukan Penentuan Nasib West Papua".]

Source: https://tirto.id/demo-di-kantor-freeport-juga-serukan-penentuan-nasib-west-papuanbsp-cGWN

Thousands without e-ID may not be able to vote in Papua

Jakarta Post - March 28, 2018

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua – Thousands of voters in Papua have yet to have their identities registered under the electronic identification (e-ID), which could strip them of their voting rights in the upcoming elections.

Acting Papua Governor Sudarmo said he had instructed the Papua Social Affairs and Civil Registry Agency to speed up the e-ID registration of 627,815 voters. He also said the residents must be provided with a statement letter if the agency had not yet acquired the blank cards for the new e-ID.

"The voters who don't own an e-ID or a statement letter [regarding their identities] cannot use their voting rights in the 2018 regional elections and the 2019 legislative and presidential elections," Sudarmo said on Wednesday.

The Papua General Election Commission (KPUD) has said the temporary voters list for the province included 3,580,279 people.

Civil registry agency head Ribka Haluk said the officials have faced challenges in recording residents' data after equipment was destroyed during conflict and resistance from the residents.

"There are voters across all regencies in Papua that have yet to have their data recorded. They are mostly in the Jayawijaya, Paniai and Lanny Jaya regencies," Ribka said.

Meanwhile, Papua Elections Supervisory Body (Bawaslu) member Pata said authorities found out about the issue following coklit – a campaign by the KPU for voter data verification.

"We found that there are residents who do not have registered identification yet. That is unfortunate as they cannot vote in the upcoming elections," Pata said.

The provincial administration has only three weeks left to record the residents' data as the KPUD will hold a plenary meeting to announce the final voters list.

Suparmo added if the administration could not register a significant number of people he would consult with related parties on special policies needed to make sure residents can still use their voting rights.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/28/thousands-without-e-id-may-not-be-able-to-vote-in-papua.html

MSG rumblings over Indonesia will cool down, says PNG

Radio New Zealand International - March 28, 2018

Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister has downplayed signs of tensions in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Leaders from MSG members states Solomon Islands and Fiji have been engaged in a war of words this month over Indonesia's involvement in the group.

The rift went public with recent comments by Solomon Islands' deputy prime minister Manasseh Sogavare that Fiji forced other MSG members to accept Indonesia in the group.

PNG's Rimbink Pato said as the current MSG chair holder, his country will work to maintain Melanesian unity. Speaking in New Zealand, Mr Pato said it is typical of Melanesian peoples to have their differences.

"But there's a time to party together and get together and shake hands and move forward," he said. "So I think those rumblings will come to an end."

"Of course we had those with Fiji, Australia and New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum some years back," said Mr Pato. "But PNG was taking a role to resolve those issues, and see where we are, we are together now."

Indonesia's entry to the MSG has been characterised by politicians from Vanuatu and Solomon Islands as being aimed at countering a West Papuan bid for full membership in the group.

The Solomon's MP Matthew Wale has warned that having Indonesia in the group would continue to divide the independent Melanesian states.

Indonesia's government has argued that it has more people of Melanesian stock than any other country and therefore deserves its associate member status in the MSG.

However, an application for full MSG membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua remained on the table and is being processed by the MSG Secretariat.

"There is a process and the application was the subject of recent discussions," Mr Pato explained, adding that the competence of the MSG to be decisive on this long-running issue was very clear.

"And the criteria for membership is being worked on, and we the foreign ministers (of MSG) will look at it, make the appropriate recommendations to the leaders. The leaders will then make a decision as to what the outcome (will be)."

Rimbink Pato said that the PNG government fully supported Indonesian territorial control of Papua. "There is no authority permitted by the MSG constitution which allows membership of non-sovereign states, or loose entities, as it were."

He told RNZ Pacific that the case of the Liberation Movement was different to that of New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks movement which, although also not an independent state, was a full MSG member.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/353587/msg-rumblings-over-indonesia-will-cool-down-says-png

40 police deployed to secure Papuan student screening of film 'The First

Tempo - March 28, 2018

Nur Hadi, Surabaya – Scores of police were deployed to secure a discussion and screening of the film "The First Grader" organised by the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) in Surabaya.

The event was held at the Papuan Kamasan III Dormitory on Jl. Kalasan in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya on the evening of Tuesday March 27.

Tambaksari sectoral police chief Commissioner Prayitno said that the tight security was necessary because there were indications that the film was about black skinned people (kulit hitam).

"It was in anticipation of the Papuan people's ideology", said Priyatno when contacted by Tempo on Tuesday evening. In addition to this, according to Prayitno, they believed that that the film is in conflict with Indonesian culture and the culture of the nation and state.

"The film conflicts with our culture, the national culture and the state", said Prayitno. Nevertheless, police eventually allowed the event to go ahead.

Prayitno added that based on an agreement between police and the organising committee, the discussion and screening of the film about an elderly person who wanted to get an education went ahead at 8am, two hours later than scheduled.

Prayitno said that around 40 officers were deployed to the location in North Surabaya, who have been guarding the screening since late afternoon. "They failed to notify us beforehand about the event", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Pemutaran Film Mahasiswa Papua di Surabaya Dijaga Polisi".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1073930/pemutaran-film-mahasiswa-papua-di-surabaya-dijaga-polisi

Palm oil company accused over failing moratorium in Papua

Radio New Zealand International - March 27, 2018

An environmental NGO has accused a major palm oil company in Indonesia's Papua province of failing to honour the spirit of a moratorium on new forest clearing.

Korindo, a South Korean-Indonesian joint venture, implemented a moratorium on forest clearing last year in its oil palm concessions, after international pressure applied to it over burning rainforests in Papua.

Deborah Lapidus of the non government organisation Mighty Earth said that since then, Korindo has degraded an area of more than 30 square kilometres of forest on an adjacent timber concession.

"At the same time that they have been committed to not clearing more forest on their palm oil concession, we've seen this pretty dramatic expansion of removal of forest in their logging concession which is actually right next to their palm oil concession," she said.

"So it's clear that they are just doing the moratorium as a green-washing effort."

In response, Korindo has said that the logging at the heart of Mighty Earth's claim was done by an earlier concession holder.

However according to Ms Lapidus, satellite imagery has showed that new logging inroads were made in 2017, well into Korindos tenure as a concession holder.

Indonesia's government last year also announced a broad moratorium on issuing new licenses to use land designated as primary forest and peatland. But Ms Lapidus said Jakarta continued to encourage industrial scale agri-business development in Papua.

"We're seeing new licenses issued every day, despite the fact that at the same time Indonesia has said there's a moratorium in place for any new palm oil licensing for any new expansion into forests," she said.

"So there's also a lot of contradictory policies coming from the government. But they don't seem to be enforcing that moratorium in Papua."

Indonesia is the world's biggest palm oil producer, and its Papua region has some of the last remaining significant tracts of native rainforest.

Environmentalists claim clearance of land for palm oil plantation has endangered a critically important resource for Papua and added to carbon emissions.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/353501/palm-oil-company-accused-over-failing-moratorium-in-papua

Freeport faces threat from armed gangs of criminals: Police

Tempo - March 27, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Papua Police Chief Ins.Gen. Boy Rafli said there are still armed gangs of criminals seeking to create trouble for US mining company PT Freeport Indonesia.

Freeport, which has large copper and gold mine in Tembagapura, Papua, is still facing threat to security in mining operation, Boy said on Monday.

He said the existence of the armed criminals is also a threat to the security officers including police and the military personnel in Papua.

The armed groups, police called armed gangs of criminals, are believed to be separatists hiding in the mountain jungle of Papua sporadically launching attacks on patrolling security officers.

Boy said the criminals had caused also trouble for the people such as when they attacked and set fire on a hospital in the village of Banti recently.

Boy said despite the growing intensity of attacks, he did not think Papua needs additional police personnel to help improve security in the region.

However, he did not rule out additional personnel if the situation is worse, saying,"We still study the situation, and it is not impossible that we would need additional personnel if the situation is worse.

He said the the Banti hospital has ceased operation after the attacked around five months earlier as all paramedics have not returned from evacuation. Only native people dare to stay in the village of Banti, away from police station, he said.

He said police have difficulty to reach that village as the unpaved road was badly damaged. The armed criminals apparently dug big holes in the road to hamper mobility of both the villagers and patrolling police, he said.

"If police tried to use the road they would be an easy target like a sitting duck for snipers hiding behind the jungle trees," he said. The nearest police station to Banti is at Utikini Lama around one kilometer away, he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/27/055917027/Freeport-Faces-Threat-from-Armed-Gangs-of-Criminal-Police

The mysterious death of a Papuan child

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - March 27, 2018

Andreas Harsono – There are multiple accounts of how Rico Ayomi, a 17-year-old student, died in Sorong, in Indonesia's West Papua province, after 24 hours in police detention.

Police initially said Ayomi was found unconscious near an empty bottle of 70-percent alcohol when they detained him at midnight on March 11, indicating that his death 27 hours later was due to "alcohol poisoning."

But Simon Soren, a relative of Ayomi's, told Human Rights Watch that when police returned Ayomi to his family 24 hours after they detained him, he was unconscious and had injuries including "bruises on his left cheek, left shoulder, a bleeding nose and a broken jaw." Ayomi never regained consciousness and died three hours later. Soren said eyewitnesses told him that a mob had assaulted Ayomi on the evening of March 11, accusing him of theft.

On March 21, Sorong's deputy police chief, Chandra Ismawanto, told Human Rights Watch that the police assessment of "alcohol poisoning" as the cause of Ayomi's death was "controversial" and that police now suspected Ayomi died from a combination of excessive alcohol consumption and a mob beating. He declined to say whether police were investigating. Ismawanto said the results of an autopsy would be available last week, but neither we nor the family have been able to get the results.

Questions about police conduct in Ayomi's case don't end there. Ismawanto confirmed that police waited 23 hours after they detained Ayomi to take him to a hospital, attributing the delay to slow official approval. He said police noted Ayomi's failure to regain consciousness while in detention as "strange," but that a doctor at the hospital certified that he was "healthy."

The circumstances of Ayomi's death demand a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation. But that is unlikely to happen. Indonesian authorities rarely investigate security forces implicated in the deaths of Papuans. In cases in which investigations do occur, police found culpable in unlawful killings invariably face administrative wrist-slaps rather than criminal prosecution.

Until there is political will in Jakarta to meaningfully investigate and prosecute the killings of Papuans by security forces or unidentified attackers, the lives of Papuans such as Rico Ayomi will remain at risk.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/03/27/mysterious-death-papuan-child

Mosque in Indonesia has Papuan Christians seething

UCA News - March 26, 2018

Benny Mawel, Jayapura – The height of a minaret at a Muslim mosque in Indonesia's predominantly Christian Papuaprovince has Protestants and Catholics hot under the collar as they claim it is being built to deliberately overshadow nearby churches.

The Protestant Communion of Churches in Jayapura district, known as the PGGJ, has called for the minaret in the city of Sentani to be pulled down, a call backed by a local Catholic priest who called opposition to the tower a move to counter intolerance.

"Construction of Al-Aqsha mosque's minaret must be halted and demolished, while the mosque itself must lowered to the same height as church buildings in the area," Protestant Church leaders said in a statement sent to the government and Muslim leaders.

They also said their protest underlined their concern among Papuan Christians over the growing influence of Islam in Papua province.

Franciscan Father Hendrikus Nahak from Redeemer Parish in Sentani told ucanews.com on March 22 that the Protestant protest was a move to counter intolerance, which was being displayed through ego and the need by the mosque's builders to overshadow nearby churches.

"Ego makes people fall into pride. Pride makes the faithful more concerned with the accessories of faith rather than the substance of faith, and people try to show it in life," said the priest whose church is about 100 meters away from the mosque.

"Accessories should not negate the substance of faith," he said. "Even a small building, which appreciates other believers, is not really a problem."

Referring to the growing influence of Islam, Father Nahak, who has served the area for about ten years, claimed the number of Muslims particularly in cities has increased.

"It can be seen in the construction of mosques and mushola [small mosques] everywhere. In Jayapura district this is very obvious," he said.

About 1.9 million of Papua's 2.8 million population are Protestants, 0.5 million Catholics and 0.4 million Muslims. The rest are Confucians, Buddhists and Hindus, according to the last census.

PGGJ chairman Reverend Robby Depondoye said their protest is also to try and buck a trend that is taking place across Papua. "Old mosques are demolished and rebuilt to a design similar to the Al-Aqsha mosque," he said.

According to Marianus Yaung, a member of the PGGJ's law and education desk, the under-construction minaret is about 30-meters high while church buildings are only 15-meters high on average.

The Protestant group also called for a ban on the building of mosques in residential areas. Muhammad Taufik, who manages Al-Aqsha mosque, refused to comment.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Jayapura chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council, Saiful Islam Al Payage said the issue should be resolved through "dialogue and peaceful means."

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/mosque-in-indonesia-has-papuan-christians-seething/81878

Does Indonesia belong in the Melanesian Spearhead Group?

Dateline Pacific (RNZ) - March 26, 2018

Indonesia's place in the Melanesian Spearhead Group has come under scrutiny from regional leaders and experts after allegations were made by Solomon Islands' deputy prime minister Manasseh Sogavare earlier this month that Fiji pressured other countries to accept Jakarta's bid to join the sub-regional group.

The leaders of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and the FLNKS indigenous New Caledonian pro-independence group granted Indonesia its associate member status in 2015.

But as Koroi Hawkins reports while Indonesia has secured itself a seat at the table it does not mean it is being welcomed across Melanesia.


"Well firstly Indonesia should be kicked out. Indonesia is not Melanesian, Indonesia does not have Melanesian interests at its heart and Indonesia is the oppressor of Melanesians in the regions lo West Papua Iran Jaya they used to call it."

Matthew Wale is an opposition MP in Solomon Islands. "And so it was a terrible mistake for Indonesia to be admitted as an associate member of the MSG."

Mr Wale's comments are in relation to Indonesia's opposition to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua which is seeking to be the West Papuan representative on the MSG.

So far the ULMWP has managed to secure observer status in the MSG despite considerable opposition from Indonesia.

Critics of Indonesia say undermining the ULMWP was one of the main reasons it sought to join the MSG. But a spokesperson from Indonesia's Embassy in Canberra, Sade Bimantara, says this is not true.

"You know since the 1960s Indonesia, we have been contributing towards peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region. So all we are doing also in the South Pacific is expanding that sort of architecture building and norm setting into the South Pacific as well and working with Australia and working with New Zealand and other countries in the South Pacific region."

But the peace rhetoric stops when it comes to the ULMWP and its bid for full membership in the MSG.

"ULMWP does not belong in the MSG. It is not a state and does not represent the almost four million West Papuans living in the Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia. They do not have the mandate and never contested in the democratic process in Papua and West Papua."

But the indigenous New Caledonian pro-independence group the FLNKS is a full member of the MSG. However Mr Bimantara says West Papua cannot be compared to the FLNKS.

"New Caledonia is recognised by the United Nations and is on the list of the C24 decolonisation committee. While West Papua the issue has been resolved since 1969 that Indonesia is a sovereign nation which encompasses also West Papua and that has been recognised by all of the countries in the United Nations system."

The latest shade on Indonesia's status in the MSG was cast by Solomon Islands' deputy prime minister Manasseh Sogavare who accused Fiji of putting pressure on other Melanesian countries to accept Indonesia. An allegation Fiji's Defence Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola rubbished.

"I think he is either suffering from memory loss or is trying to play politics to his own constituents. He has forgotten that it was during his term when he was chair of the MSG when Indonesia was admitted to the MSG as an associate member."

But a Solomon Islands' academic at the University of Hawaii, Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, who was at the 2015 MSG meeting when Indonesia was granted its associate membership, says Ratu Inoke is trying to discount the fact that it was Fiji who sponsored Indonesia's bid and Fiji who had the most riding on its outcome.

"Fiji has an economic relationship with Indonesia and also there are connections in terms of exchanges of ideas vis-a-vis the military in particular. And so it is an important friend for Fiji."

Economically PNG shares a similar relationship with Indonesia to Fiji but it has even more reason to try and keep Indonesia on side given its shared land border. Vanuatu and Solomon Islands have no such restrictions.

Solomon Islands' opposition MP Matthew Wale says since Indonesia joined the MSG it has had a chilling effect on conversations about human rights abuses and the push for self-determination in West Papua.

Mr Wale says the MSG was created to help Melanesians gain independence from their colonial masters and it has strayed too far from its roots.

"The MSG has worked itself into a bad joke. A really seriously bad joke. I advocate for the dismantling of the MSG and then a re-constituting of something new in its place that will truly advocate for decolonisation and much better treatment of Melanesians that are oppressed that are living under conditions that are not at all humane."

But Indonesia's Sade Bimantara, says the entire region is misguided on the issue of West Papua. He says Papuans are already "politically" free.

"...well West Papua is free because it is a democracy, it elects directly their own leaders and their government can freely govern in Papua and West Papua and the majority of the members of government are West Papuan natives. And also financially they are also free to manage their own finances."

On the subject of finances the MSG has experienced difficulty running its Port Vila based secretariat which was built by the Chinese government and has been getting financial support from Indonesia.

Tarcisius Kabutaulaka says it is an arrangement that further compromises the objectivity of the group.

"You know running a regional organisation or in this case a sub-regional organisation is expensive. And Indonesia has taken advantage of that and I think that is partly a result of lack planning on the part of our MSG countries. But there are creative ways of running regional organisations that would not hold us accountable to powers outside of the region that are putting money into these kinds of things."

Despite Indonesia's opposition the ULMWP's bid for membership it is still unresolved.

The MSG secretariat is looking at the application through a newly drafted set of guidelines on admission. The outcome of this application will most likely set the tone for the next chapter of Melanesia's love/hate relationship with Indonesia.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/2018637598/does-indonesia-belong-in-the-melanesian-spearhead-group

Papuans accuse Greenpeace of scaring off investors

Jakarta Post - March 25, 2018

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura – Indigenous communities from Airu Hulu village in Jayapura regency, Papua, have accused Greenpeace of "interfering" with the management of customary forests in the region and scaring off investor.

Airu youth figure Soleman Waibara said the locals had been facing difficulties in developing their forestry and farming business potential.

"We need schools, roads, electricity and proper housing. The government has been working here, but our lives have yet to change. We need investors to build our community," Soleman told The Jakarta Post.

He said Airu villagers believed regulations on protected forest and conservation forest were preventing them from enjoying the benefits of infrastructure development.

"The decision to designate protected, conservation and production forest should be based on clear data and announced to locals, so we can develop the forest based on the regulations," Soleman said.

Greenpeace Papua representative Carles Tawaru rebuffed the claim, saying the organization had never tried to deter investors from coming to Papua. He went on to say that the environmental group had been collaborating with locals in campaigning for the protection of Indonesian forests.

"For example, we participate in building indigenous community-based forest in Manggroholo-Sira, West Papua. We support community-based forest management and putting sovereignty in people's hands," Carles told The Jakarta Post.

Environmentalists say forests in Papua are threatened by the rapid expansion of agricultural plantations, such as for oil palm, which have been touted as a means to improve economic opportunities. (kuk/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/25/papuans-accuse-greenpeace-of-scaring-off-investors.html

Widodo and West Papuan human rights fall under NZ media radar

Asia Pacific Report - March 25, 2018

Colin Peacock, RNZ Mediawatch – While a former US President's visit preoccupied the New Zealand media this week, the state visit of the current president of Indonesia went mostly under the radar. You'll look in vain for reports about what was discussed at top-level talks about important issues.

Just before former US President Barack Obama flew in to New Zealand, a leader described as "Indonesia's Obama" by Stuff this week touched down on Monday.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo represents the world's fourth most populous country and he is an interesting leader. The former furniture maker is a heavy metal fan only turned to politics 12 years ago.

Briefing the reporters last Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters: "Indonesia is an incredibly important potential economic partner for New Zealand."

She went on to say that she had also raised some political sensitive issues including "freedom of speech and access of foreign media in the Papua region."

The Indonesian Embassy promoted the state visit via social media. That media freedom issue is important for the disputed Melanesian territory of West Papua. Reporters have found it very difficult to get in to find out what's going on there.

Stuff, The New Zealand Herald, RNZ and Newshub all noted in their preview pieces that West Papua independence activists had been urging the Prime Minister to raise the issue too.

Witty remarks

On day one of the visit, most media outlets covered the photo opportunities and scheduled walkabouts in Wellington. President Widodo's witty remarks about Indonesian coffee and New Zealand sheep made for a big headline in the Herald the next day.

RNZ Pacific reported that the President and his team were greeted by Free West Papua protesters and flag-waving Indonesian patriots on parliament grounds, who tried to drown out each other's songs.

So far, so good. But you'll look in vain for media reports about what was said at those bilateral talks.

Photos were taken on behalf of all media by one photographer when the Indonesians met Jacinda Ardern. Judging by the smiles on all the faces, it was going well at that point.

Similarly smiley pictures of a meeting with Simon Bridges appeared on his Twitter feed and that of the Indonesian Embassy afterwards.

Reporters ushered out

But the media reports of both meetings say reporters were ushered out of the room as President Widodo began to speak.

RNZ reported that the Indonesian government had requested "media opportunities for questions... were kept to a bare minimum". Joko Widodo and Jacinda Ardern did not hold a press conference.

"I'm advised – that as far as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalls, there has been never a requirement for post bilateral stand-ups. They've always been case by case," Jacinda Ardern told reporters earlier

A joint statement was released on Tuesday covering areas of cooperation and common ground. It said both leaders reaffirmed other's "sovereignty and territorial integrity" – not a comfort to those who hoped he would be pressed on independence for West Papua.

But that was a document drafted by diplomats – not by journalists

No change

In his preview of Joko Widodo's visit, on Scoop.co.nz Gordon Campbell predicted it would not change a situation once described by David Lange years ago.

"He had said it was almost impossible to get New Zealand to think about the huge nation sitting right on our doorstep," Campbell wrote. It seems he is still right about that.

And Joko Widodo seems capable of handling the media. On The Panel on RNZ National last Tuesday Jim Mora noted Joko Widodo brought the house down with thoughts about politics and the media during a speech last week in Australia.

"Since the arrival of Netflix the politicians have no choice but to turn politics into reality TV, because if we don't, all of you will watch House of Cards and Stranger Things instead of watching us," he said.

[Republished from RNZ Mediawatch by Pacific Media Watch.]

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2018/03/25/widodo-and-west-papuan-human-rights-fall-under-nz-media-radar/

Opposition denounces Fiji First govt's support for Indonesia

Radio New Zealand International - March 23, 2018

Fiji's Opposition Social Democratic Liberal Party said it is deeply disturbed about allegations that the Fiji First Government acted forcibly to have Indonesia admitted as an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

In a statement today, the shadow minister of foreign affairs and defence Mosese Bulitavu has urged other Melanesian countries to stay true to the decolonisation vision of the MSG.

Mr Bulitavu said Fiji First leaders have already tampered with indigenous rights in Fiji and are now venturing on a path to compromise the rights of the people of Melanesian origin to help the interests of non-Melanesian nations.

Mosese Bulitavu's comments come in the wake of a war of words between Fiji and Solomon Islands over Indonesia's associate member status in the MSG.

An opposition MP in Solomon Islands Matthew Wale has called for Indonesia to either be kicked out of the sub-regional group or for the MSG to be dismantled altogether.

He said Indonesia is not Melanesian and in fact is the oppressor of Melanesian peoples under its jurisdictions in West Papua.

Mosese Bulitavu said his party leader Major General Sitiveni Rabuka was one of the founding leaders of the MSG and SODELPA is committed to the founding ideals and principles of the regional organization.

Mr Bulitavu called for the reconsideration of the admission of Indonesia as an associate member of the MSG and for further discussion on the admission of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

He said Fiji First has no right to hold Melanesia and its future to ransom.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/353206/opposition-denounces-fiji-first-govt-s-support-for-indonesia


Sharia crackdowns in Aceh costing Indonesian transgender women their

ABC News - March 24, 2018

Anne Barker – Transgender women in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province are losing their jobs and incomes in the wake of police raids that saw several beauty salons shut down.

Several salons in northern Aceh remain closed more than a month after the raids, and some trans women who worked there have fled to Jakarta in fear. Other salons are still open but have virtually lost all their customers.

In Jakarta too, transgender women last week were reportedly rounded up and sent to rehabilitation centres to correct their "social dysfunctional traits".

Transgender people are known as "waria" in the Indonesian language, from the words wanita and pria – meaning man and woman.

One such waria, Adel, said she was beaten by police during the recent raids in Aceh, and feared for her safety if she returned to the salon she runs at Lhokseumawe.

"I don't think I can work in a salon just yet, because I'm still too scared," she said. Aceh is the only Indonesian province where Sharia law is in place.

'We just want to live peacefully'

At least five salons were raided in Lhokseumawe and Lhoksukon, and 12 waria were ordered to strip off their dresses and makeup and behave like men.

As the raids took place, a large crowd watched on. Police later cut off the waria's hair and ordered them to speak with a male voice.

"We were told to roll over and be like men, to scream until a man's voice came out," said Rezal, a trans woman who goes by the name Bella.

Two salons at Lhoksukon remain open but the waria have been given strict orders to work as men. But because Sharia law bans men from touching women who are not related, they have all but lost their customers. "We haven't had any customers since the raids," Bella said.

"I am the only one supporting my family, but until now we have had no customers. I can no longer help my parents in the village. We don't know what the future will bring. We just want to live peacefully in Aceh."

The policeman who led the raids brought four of the waria to his office when the ABC visited Aceh earlier this month. But they were too intimidated to speak freely.

Police superintendent Untung Sangaji Suryanata said hardline Muslim groups were threatening to harm the waria, so he acted.

"Islamic groups see them as enemies. They were threatening to burn them, kill them," he said. "It was better that I took action, so they didn't have to."

'It is a great sin': Community sentiment hardening

Conservative Muslim leaders say transgender behaviour is an offence punishable by God.

"It is forbidden in religion for a man to become a woman," said Zulfadli, head of Islamic organisation Al Aziziah. "Just like me, if I become a woman, it is a great sin. Same with a woman who becomes a man."

There are an estimated 100 waria or trans women in northern Aceh regency alone. The vast majority work in beauty salons because they among the few places they can make a living.

Living as trans in Indonesia

The Indonesian transgender community regularly faces verbal assaults from government and religious figures. While they are under pressure to change, some are living their lives undeterred.

Until recently they have been tolerated and largely left alone. But community sentiment is hardening towards transgenders, gays and other minority groups.

The Indonesian Parliament is currently drafting laws that would ban sex between gay or even unmarried couples. It is an issue certain to divide the country in the lead-up to next year's presidential election.

One of the warias' strongest supporters is the daughter of former moderate Muslim President Abdurrahman Wahid. Inayah Wahid says her father – who died in 2009 – would be horrified at the direction Indonesia was heading.

"I always felt that there is going to be a war, a real war happening, there's going to be a lot of repression," Ms Wahid said.

"People always say, 'If only he was here, if only he was here, things would have been different'. I'm sure he would be on the front line to defend them. I could picture him going to Aceh himself to defend them, to defend Adel and all her friends."

Adel is still lying low in Jakarta, unsure if or when she can return to Aceh or ever reopen her salon. "I can't go home yet, I'm too scared."

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-24/sharia-crackdowns-in-aceh-costing-transgender-women-livelihoods/9564554

Labour & migrant workers

Trade union to announce choice for presidential candidate on May Day

Detik News - March 31, 2018

Dwi Andayani, Jakarta – The Indonesian Workers Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) will announce its choice for presidential candidate (capres) on May Day. A number of names such as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson Prabowo Subianto are still being considered.

"The leadership met the other day and later at KSPI's national working meeting on April 28-30 we will decide on which capres we'll support. We have set May Day to announce the name, like in 2014", said KSPI President Said Iqbal during a discussion at the Sang Akar Coffee Studio on Jl. Tebet Dalam I in South Jakarta on Saturday March 31.

In addition to this, workers will also ask that a cabinet position be given to a worker. According to Iqbal, with a labour representative as a minister it will be easier to implement a political contract.

"We are asking to be given a ministerial post, I'm not too embarrassed to say this rather than asking for money later. Because if [a labour representative] becomes a minister they can implement a political contract. If they don't want to give us a ministerial post, yes well we won't support them", said Iqbal.

One of the names that the trade union is still considering championing is Widodo. Why? "Because the PP 78 [Government Regulation 78/2015] has still not been revoked so it was a long and difficult internal discussion. The PP 78 is of great concern", said Iqbal. (dkp/dkp)


1. Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on setting the minimum wage ties annual wage rises to inflation and productivity rather than the reasonable cost of living index which was used in the 2003 Labour Law. As well as putting pressure on wages, the regulation effectively abolishes the function of wage councils, which are made up of representatives from the government, employers and trade unions in negotiating wage rises, and allows the government to set wage rises unilaterally.

2. KSPI president Said Iqbal, who supported former Special Forces (Kopassus) commander retired General Prabowo Subianto's failed 2014 presidential bid, also supported the Prabowo backed Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket in the religiously and ethnically divisive Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2017. He later withdrew his support for newly elected Governor Baswedan calling him a "liar" after he failed to honor a political contract pledging not to use the PP 78/2015 to determine the 2018 minimum wage rise.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Umumkan Capres Saat May Day, Serikat Buruh Minta Jatah Menteri".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/3946548/umumkan-capres-saat-may-day-serikat-buruh-minta-jatah-menteri

Sacrificed: Freeport workers in limbo

Indonesia at Melbourne - March 28, 2018

Nurkholis Hidayat & Valerie Tan – The seemingly endless Freeport saga could be summarised by the Indonesian aphorism "When elephants collide, the mousedeer dies between them" (Gajah sama gajah bertarung, kancil mati di tengah-tengah).

Tensions between the mining giant and the Indonesian government began back in 2014, after the government announced it wanted to renegotiate its existing agreement with Freeport, which does not expire until 2021. The most problematic issues have related to new conditions the government wants to impose, including onshore processing of mineral concentrates and divestment of a 51 per cent stake in Freeport's local arm to the Indonesian government.

The convoluted negotiation process has been marked by public spats in the media, cabinet divisions, and an alleged bribery scandal involving disgraced former House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Setya Novanto. The corporation's thousands of Indonesian workers have been caught in the middle.

The dispute reached a peak in January 2017, when President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration banned the export of semi-processed metal ore exports, including copper concentrates from Freeport's Grasberg mine. The government said it would allow Freeport to resume exports if it agreed to convert its contract of work into a special mining business licence, which would involve divestment of 51 per cent of shares to the government.

In February 2017, Freeport responded to the export ban by threatening to lay off workers if the dispute was not resolved quickly. Days later, Freeport McMoran CEO Richard C. Adkerson confirmed that Freeport had laid off 10 per cent of its expatriate staff and said contract workers would follow. About 20,000 of Freeport's 32,000 workers are contractors.

The government, however, seemed relatively untroubled by the threat. "If it is part of pressure, just ignore it," Coordinating Minister for the Economy Darmin Nasution said. Other high ranking government officials like now Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan dismissed the threats as "inelegant" and "kampungan" (uneducated or small minded).

More than a year on, tensions between the government and Freeport are still unresolved. Workers began a series of strikes in May 2017 to protest at their colleagues being dismissed or being placed on enforced leave. The company has claimed that the strikes were illegal, and ended workers' wages and benefits, stating that by being absent for more than five days, workers were considered to have voluntarily resigned. About 8,000 workers have been affected by the dispute but the company has refused to negotiate with the main workers' union, only recognising a more compliant splinter union.

Workers, meanwhile, insist that the strikes are lawful. They have pledged to remain on strike until the company agrees to reinstate workers placed on leave and negotiate with the main workers' union.

The impact of the layoffs has been devastating, as many of the workers' livelihoods were dependent on their employment. For many workers, being laid off has involved losing access to healthcare and housing. The company is not the sole culprit – several banks have blocked workers' access to their accounts without adequate client liaison. Further, because of terminated employment, workers have had their social security benefits taken away. This has contributed to the deaths of at least 16 workers who were unable to access medical services. Schools have also asked workers' children to leave after their parents were unable to pay school fees and many workers have been evicted from their homes after failing to meet rental payments.

The list of violations does not end there. The Lokataru Law and Human Rights Office has discovered many cases of police brutality, for example, during the crackdown on protestors 19 August 2017 at Check Point 28. Following the riot, 19 workers were arrested and many were tortured while in detention. Steven Edward Yawan, for example, was reportedly kept in an isolated room with little access to air or light and was tortured with snakes and beatings. Nine workers, including Yawan, remain in detention and are now facing trial in the Timika District Court.

The list of abuses goes on, and calls into question the relationship between the police and Freeport Indonesia. The government relies heavily on the company to provide logistical, infrastructure and financial support in Papua. Likewise, the company often hires police and military officials for security and protection of its mining operations, which has contributed to more abuses of human rights. Many of these violations receive little to no media attention, meaning that there is not much pressure on the firm or the government to be accountable and implement thorough investigations.

Government indifference

Despite clear violations of human rights, the government has paid little attention to the conditions of Freeport's workers. Labour inspectors at the Ministry of Manpower (both in Jakarta and at the local Papua office) have remained silent and have not followed up on a request submitted by the Freeport workers' union.

According to the 2003 Labour Law, union busting and intervening to supress a lawful strike are criminal conduct. The labour inspector is responsible for investigating the workers' allegations and, if violations are confirmed, prosecuting Freeport management. But instead of going after Freeport management, the Ministry of Manpower (through its Directorate of Industrial Relations) decided to facilitate unlawful mediation between the company and the "other" splinter union, without the involvement and agreement of the striking workers. This has led to significant losses for workers.

Similarly, the Social Security Administrative Agency has refused to reactivate the memberships of workers involved in the strike, who it considers to have been sacked. It also continues to ignore the cases of the 16 workers who died after they were unable to access intensive medical care because their memberships had been discontinued. This decision breaches the 2004 Law on the National Social Security System, which mandates provision of health services for a minimum six months after termination of employment.

Despite their frequent comments on the dispute with the mining firm, members of Jokowi's administration, such as Nasution, Pandjaitan and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan, have made no comments on the workers' situation or Freeport's conduct.

It has been 11 months since the strikes began. Most workers have now taken casual positions, working, for example, as motorcycle taxi drivers, street vendors, and construction workers, just to survive. They remain in limbo. Immediate action should be taken to enforce labour law and ensure their rights are met. Resolving the impasse between Freeport and the government is critical – but workers' rights must not be sacrificed in the process.

[Nurkholis Hidayat is an Indonesian human rights lawyer and previously served as a director of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), and national advisor for legal aid and criminal justice for the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice (AIPJ). He holds a master of laws from the University of Melbourne. Valerie Tan is a student at Monash Law School, and recently completed an internship at Lokataru Law & Human Rights Office through the ACICIS Professional Practicum program.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/sacrificed-freeport-workers-in-limbo/

Indonesians win the right to one-month paternity leave but some fathers

ABC Radio Australia - March 25, 2018

Nurina Savitri – Indonesian fathers who are civil servants are now eligible for up to one month of parental leave, but some families are choosing not to take it up or think it's too much time.

The new parental leave is set out in a 2017 regulation issued by the National Civil Service Agency, and was officially introduced in Jakarta a month ago.

Syamsudin Lologau, the head of Jakarta Employment Agency, said dozens of staff had already proposed taking paternity leave. He believed a few days of paternity leave would be enough for some families.

Siti Wahyuni is eight months pregnant and hopes her husband could be with her during labour, but believes the 30-day maximum provision is too much.

"Gosh, we'll be overwhelmed if [my] husband stays at home that long. It'd be better if he continues to work," she told the ABC.

"I think one week before the due date and one week after [is] enough for my husband to stay at home. We can't really predict when the baby decides to come out."

Annisa, a 24-year-old mother, is also hesitant about having her husband stay at home for a month. "I'm afraid his work piles up, no one will do it," she said.

The financial cost of paternity leave

Meanwhile, other men like Kristiawan, an immigration officer, say they wouldn't take any parental leave because of financial reasons.

"Based on the regulation, if you take that leave then you won't get main allowance, only basic salary," Kristiawan said. "And the salary is less than the allowance, it's doubled."

However, Kristiawan said he understood the logic behind the new parental leave. "I do understand, by taking that leave you'll get qualified time with family, and yes we need to be at our wife's side," he said.

"But I don't want to lose my additional income for the sake of my family, so I think I don't need to take it, perhaps one day before birth or one day during labour is enough. Or if you want it longer, one week is enough too."

Others families have eagerly welcomed the new policy and see it as an opportunity to support their partner.

Indonesian mothers have 'a bunch of support'

Ahmad Reno Amirza, a civil servant in the Jakarta province, and his wife, who is six months pregnant, are expecting their second child.

The 40-year-old believes paternity leave is important because of men's role as a husbands and fathers. "If you have a wife that is due for labour, it is important to have her husband by her side," he said.

Indonesian Breastfeeding Moms Association (AIMI) chief Nia Umar says her organisation appreciates and "welcomes" the new parental leave policy. She said a month was enough for fathers in Indonesia.

"Well in this country, you can ask for help from others, you got mum-in-law too, the grandmas, we've usually got a bunch of support system."

But she argued that people who considered the maximum 30 days stay-at-home period was too long should consider the mother.

"The first 40 days after labour is recovery period for a mom," she said. "Bathing the baby, changing diapers, going with her [the wife] to a doctor, those are the father's job."

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2018-03-25/indonesians-win-the-right-to-onemonth-paternity-leave-but-some-fathers-dont-want-to-take-it/1745080

Five Indonesians on Saudi's death row because of 'magic'

Jakarta Post - March 23, 2018

Agnes Anya, Jakarta – "Most of them were convicted because they had jimat (traditional amulets) with them," said the Foreign Ministry's Indonesian citizen protection director, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, recently.

Many migrant workers leave Indonesia carrying a jimat as a good luck charm. Jimat came in many different forms: from a hair bundle put into a tiny bag to a Quran verse kept in a wallet, Lalu said.

Many Muslims in Indonesia are unorthodox and do not consider jimat to be problematic. However, he said, Saudi authorities found such practices to be shirk (worshiping anyone or anything other than the Almighty God). In Saudi Arabia, this can result in capital punishment.

"Nonetheless, the regulation is not based on the Quran. Therefore, we usually manage to acquire clemency from the Saudi government," Iqbal said.

Indonesian officials usually find it harder to get clemency for those found guilty of a murder case. "They could only be freed from the execution charge with clemency given by the victims' family," Iqbal said.

Between 2011 and 2018, 102 Indonesians faced death row in Saudi Arabia. Three were executed, 79 were freed from the execution, and 20 are still in the legal process for clemency. Of the 20, five were charged with practicing magic. A total of 583 Indonesian citizens have faced the death penalty abroad. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/23/five-indonesians-on-saudis-death-row-because-of-magic.html

Freedom of information & the press

Press freedom in Indonesia still faces threat

Tempo - March 23, 2018

Ade Ridwan Yandwiputra, Jakarta – A mass media researcher Eriyanto said incident threatening the freedom of press continues to take place with a tendency to increase each year.

According to Eriyanto, there are averagely 70 cases per year and violence against the press ranges the highest from 2010 to 2017.

"This will have an effect towards the quality of reporting and also how society makes their aspirations heard," said Eriyanto in a public discussion entitled 'the threat against the freedom of the press' at the University of Indonesia today, March 23.

The discussion held by the political science faculty was attended by the Chairman of the Press Council Yosep Adi Prasetyo and a journalistic teacher Masmimar Mangiang.

Eriyanto said that press freedom is essential to control how any government works, other than that, it also plays the role as the voice of the people. He sees that Indonesian press is still in the middle ground between being free and confined.

Furthermore, he said that press, in government period, were most suppressed during the New Order era. However, he argues that the pressure to suppress the media in modern times comes from certain mass-organizations that think they have the power and authority to omit Indonesia's rule of law.

"This shows that several mass organizations do not fully understand the essence of freedom of speech, which is part of our basic human rights that are guaranteed by the 1945 Constitution," said Eriyanto.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/23/055916935/Press-Freedom-in-Indonesia-Still-Faces-Threat

Democracy & civil rights

Democracy takes a step back in Indonesia

Asia Times - March 26, 2018

John McBeth, Jakarta – Twenty years after the fall of president Suharto's authoritarian regime, Indonesians are waking up to the fact that new laws which have either been passed or are under consideration threaten to erode the hard-fought concepts of freedom of speech and expression.

While Indonesia may have what New York-based Freedom House calls a "vibrant and diverse media environment," its most recent 2017 report said press freedom was still hampered by legal and regulatory restrictions and a resulting penchant for self-censorship.

In what activists say is a worrying example of democratic back-sliding – and an apparent dislocation in the law-drafting process – the House of Representatives recently passed an amendment to the 2014 Legislative Institutions Law, or MD3, which effectively protects the country's politicians from public criticism.

The legislation allows for Parliament's ethics council to bring charges against anyone who "disrespects the dignity of the House or its members," but does not define what "disrespect" means or say what form of punishment will be meted out to violators.

Although his ruling Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) is among the eight political parties who supported the revision, President Joko Widodo has refused to sign it and a coalition of civil society organizations is challenging it in the Constitutional Court.

Critics say that by denying them the right to criticize their own representatives, the amended law undermines the sovereignty of the people. "I understand these concerns," the president said in a statement last month. "We all want the quality of our democracy to rise, not fall."

Baffling to many analysts, however, is why the palace didn't do more to head off or at least freeze the process, when the constitution specifically states that the content of bills must be jointly approved by Parliament and the president, or his representatives.

If agreement isn't reached, then the bill cannot be considered again by the same Parliament.

A palace spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, but a senior government official claims the immunity from criticism provision was inserted after the president had approved the draft law, which also gave PDI-P two speakership positions that it had been trying to secure since winning the 2014 elections.

If that was the case, then it suggests a disturbing failure in the law-making process itself, with a lack of communication or coordination between the palace and Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly. In fact, it is similar to what is now happening with equally controversial proposed changes to the century-old Criminal Code.

Lacking veto power, Widodo was unable to prevent the amended legislative bill from automatically becoming law on March 14, 30 days after it slipped through a plenary session of the House; only the United Development (PPP) and National Democrat (Nasdem) parties, two members of the ruling coalition, stood against it.

Civil society activists who know him say that as a long-standing member of PDI-P, and a former party legislator himself from North Sumatra, the American-educated Laoly is on difficult ground, evidenced by his public call for a petition against the law in which he seemed to abrogate his own responsibility.

Despite being in opposition for much of that time, the PDI-P has had 171 local and national politicians convicted of corruption over the past decade, well ahead of Golkar (116) and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhogyono's Democrat Party (51).

Ironically, the revision came into force four months to the day since former House Speaker Setya Novanto went on trial for allegedly engineering the embezzlement of 2.3 trillion rupiah (US$$$) from a 5.9 trillion rupiah electronic identity card (e-KTP) project.

Novanto claimed in court testimony last week that two prominent PDI leaders, Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Puan Maharani and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, both received US$500,000 from the grossly front-loaded project. Maharani is the daughter of PDI-P chairperson Megawati Sukarnoputri.

The scandal has left Parliament a target of public scorn, with the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) implicating nine political parties, along with 37 lawmakers from the 2009-2014 parliamentary legal commission, none of whom have been charged so far. Maharani and Anung had not been named until now.

The legislative law is not the only concern for press freedom advocates. The draft of the new Criminal Code, currently in the hands of a special parliamentary committee, prescribes a maximum of nine years' imprisonment for anyone who verbally attacks the president or vice president.

Individuals who publicly defame the two leaders face five years in jail, though with a rider that their action will not be considered as defamation "if it is done to serve the public interest or as a measure of self-defense" – again overbroad language that can be loosely interpreted.

Subsequent articles also prescribe three years' imprisonment for those who publicly defame Indonesia's government in a manner that causes social unrest, or who broadcast, exhibit or disseminate defamatory anti-government material Foreign journalists have little to complain about in the way of official restrictions, though Widodo's decision in 2015 to lift the ban on them travelling to restive Papua has never been properly implemented on the ground.

Even when permission is given, obstacles remain. Military officials expelled BBC correspondent Rebecca Henschke and her two Indonesian assistants from the territory last month while covering a health emergency on the southeast coast.

Henschke was accused of "hurting the feelings" of soldiers involved in the relief effort by tweeting that the aid for severely malnourished Asmat tribal children comprised little more than instant noodles, sugary soft drinks and biscuits.

Amnesty International Indonesia's executive director Usman Hamid called the expulsion "a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression" and other critics questioned why only the military – and not the police – were involved.

Freedom House's 2018 country report on Indonesia has yet to be released, but it is likely to take a harsher line than it did in 2017 when Indonesia was one of the 59 countries designated as "partly free" with a score of four out of seven for civil liberties.

"Journalists often practice self-censorship to avoid running afoul of civil and criminal defamation laws," it said in last year's report, pointing to the 2008 Electronic Information and Transaction Law that has been increasingly used to curb freedom of expression.

Ostensibly, the law is aimed at cracking down on pornography, on-line fraud, money laundering, gambling and other cyber-crimes, but much of the focus has instead been on cases of defamation and blasphemy.

Among the more than 200 Internet users prosecuted under the law so far have been scores of alleged offenders who have been accused of lodging supposedly baseless corruption complaints against government and other public officials.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/democracy-takes-step-back-indonesia/

Political parties & elections

Political candidates asking Rizieq's help viewed as mystification

Tempo - March 29, 2018

Imam Hamdi, Jakarta – A political expert from the State Islamic University (UIN) Syarief Hidayatullah, Adi Prayitno, says that regional head candidates would be misconceived to ask for support from Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab.

Adi argues that paying a visit to Rizieq Shihab who is currently overseas will not affect their electability.

"It's ironic that in the midst of a direct electoral democracy like today, there are still people that believe an individual is able to jack up their electability," said Adi today, especially considering that the person is not even in this country.

It has been reported that regional head candidates such as the candidate of the Central Java Gubernatorial Election Sudirman Said and Bekasi Mayor candidate Nur Supriyanto met Rizieq Shihab in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Adi reasons that such acts can be considered as a form of mystification as candidates are more focused on relying on external support instead of focusing on their work performance and future programs that they should be offering to their constituents. "This is a political mystification that has gone out of hand," he added.

Furthermore, he says that democracy should be in line with the logical thinking where a constituent would vote a leader based on performance. "The candidates have mortgaged their common sense by visiting Rizieq Shihab," Adi said.

He even says that the 'Rizieq Shihab-effect' only played a major role in the Jakarta Gubernatorial Election since there was a momentum that supported religious sentiments to be utilized at the time.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/29/055917125/Political-Candidates-Asking-Rizieqs-Help-Viewed-as-Mystification

Military and police chiefs vow to maintain neutrality during elections

Jakarta Post - March 28, 2018

N. Adri, Balikpapan – Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto and National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian reiterated that both forces would maintain neutrality during the regional elections and national election held this year and next year.

"Soldiers and police personnel don't have voting rights. We stand with all groups to keep the security and order," Hadi said in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Wednesday.

Both Hadi and Tito delivered a speech to thousands of military and police personnel during a work visit in Balikpapan ordering them to strengthen unity and cooperation between the two institutions.

With solid cooperation, the two forces can do well in securing the 2018 concurrent regional elections and 2019 legislative and presidential elections.

"We can guarantee that the elections can run smoothly and successfully," Tito said.

After the meeting in Balikpapan, Hadi and Tito continued their trip to Tarakan to visit Indonesia's border posts in Nunukan and Malinau.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had previously ordered the TNI and the National Police in a joint meeting in January to maintain neutrality in the upcoming elections and to map potential conflicts that might rise during the elections.

This year, 171 regions will vote for their leaders, while next year, the legislative and presidential elections will be held concurrently for the first time. (rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/28/military-and-police-chiefs-vow-to-maintain-neutrality-during-elections.html

Answering Prabowo, Jokowi says Indonesia will be one of 10 strongest

Coconuts Jakarta - March 28, 2018

When a fiery speech by Gerindra party chairman (and likely 2019 presidential contender) Prabowo Subianto was released last week in which he warned of a foreign study that predicted that Indonesia would break apart by 2030, many criticized his pessimistic view of the country's future. When it was revealed that the "study" upon which Prabowo based his speech was actually a sci-fi techno thriller called Ghost Fleet, a large number of jokes and taunts were piled atop that criticism.

Indonesian opposition leader cites #GhostFleet in fiery campaign speecheshttps://t.co/cLXJaYnUAK

There have been many unexpected twists and turns from this book experience, but this may take the cake... pic.twitter.com/KcRmUO2nzx – Peter W. Singer (@peterwsinger) March 21, 2018

President Joko Widodo, the man Prabowo is widely expected to challenge for a second time in next year's elections, never specifically commented on the Ghost Fleet fiasco, but in a speech he gave yesterday at a meeting of the nation's regional legislators, Jokowi clearly sought to rebut Prabowo's pessimistic warning about Indonesia's dissolution with his own optimistic prediction of the country's fate in 2030.

"In the year 2030, more or less, we will have become one of the 7 to 10 strongest economies in the world," the president told the audience at the National Working Meeting of the Association of the Regional People's Legislative Assembly (DPRD) on Tuesday as quoted by Tempo.

Unlike Prabowo, who has so far only cited Ghost Fleet to back up his 2030 claims, President Jokowi cited actual studies for his predictions.

A report by the McKinsey Global Institute, published in September 2012 and titled, "The archipelago economy: Unleashing Indonesia's potential", argues that "Indonesia's fast-growing economy could become the world's 7th largest by 2030, up from 16th today, but only if it can further boost productivity to meet growth targets."

Jokowi also cited World Bank data and models by Indonesia's own economic and development agencies to predict that Indonesia's economic position could strengthen even further in the future.

"By 2040-2045, there is a chance that our country will be in the world's top 5 strongest economies, later even #4, InsyaAllah," he said.

In Prabowo's speech, he implied that the reason the country was in danger of dissolving due to the country's greedy elites owning the vast majority of the country's land and selling off Indonesia's resources to foreign powers.

In Jokowi's talk from yesterday, he seem to address that part of Prabowo's speech too, saying that there were still many problems Indonesia had to tackle in order to achieve those economic goals.

"Especially inequality, poverty, those are our common tasks, from the center to the outlying regions, we are working hard to resolve things that need to be improved," he said.

If indeed Prabowo chooses to go up against Jokowi again next year (which is not yet a sure thing), it will be interesting to see if he decides to stick with his apocalyptic warning of Indonesia's imminent dissolution as his main campaign platform because, based on reactions from the public and the most recent polls, Indonesians generally seem more enthusiastic about Jokowi's moderate but optimistic vision of the country's future.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/answering-prabowo-jokowi-says-indonesia-will-one-10-strongest-economies-world-2030/

Delay of regional head candidates legal process explained by Tito

Tempo - March 28, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – Indonesian Police (Polri) Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said the police are still postponing the legal proceedings for regional head candidates facing legal cases during the election process. The reason is to avoid the assumption that the police being used as political tools.

"We are worried the case might be used by the candidates to impose each other's electability," said Tito Karnavian at Polri Headquarters, Trunojoyo, South Jakarta, Tuesday, March 27.

However, the delay does not apply to those involving election crimes and sting operations conducted by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

According to Tito, if the legal procedure keeps running during the election process, it will likely cause public outcry and might be exploited by certain parties. He objected his agency to be called as a political tool to bring down political opponents of regional head candidates.

The Police has issued a circular letter related to the delay in the investigation of regional head candidates indicated to be involved in corruption cases. Tito Karnavian stated the decision is one of the efforts to create stable conditions during the election process.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/28/055917074/Delay-of-Regional-Head-Candidates-Legal-Process-Explained-by-Tito

Lawyer: Many regional head candidates meet Rizieq Shihab in Mecca

Tempo - March 28, 2018

Imam Hamdi, Jakarta – The lawyer of Rizieq Shihab, Kapitra Ampera, stated many regional head candidates has met his client in Mecca, Saudi Arabia to ask for support and pray. "Many candidates have indeed met Habib Rizieq," said Kapitra when contacted on Wednesday, March 28.

Kapitra explained the regional head candidates who came to Rizieq are those from four parties namely Gerindra, PAN, PKS, and PBB. According to him, those people believe the leader of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) still has a huge impact on the society.

Earlier, a governor candidate of Central Java Sudirman Said and a deputy mayor candidate of Bekasi city Nur Supriyanto were reported to meet Rizieq in Saudi Arabia. However, Kapitra reluctant to mention other names who already had an appointment with Rizieq.

Kapitra said, not only to gain support from Rizieq, the candidates also discussed leadership issue from the religious perspective. The candidates, he went on, came in either from their own decision or the party.

He claimed that a number of regions also asked him to make an appointment to meet Rizieq. "A lot of people longing to meet Rizieq, in a day they are about a thousand who came," Kapitra stated.

As of now, Rizieq Shihab is trying to plan a schedule to head back Indonesia. "He will be back at the right time," said Kapitra.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/28/055917085/Lawyer-Many-Regional-Head-Candidates-Meet-Rizieq-Shihab-in-Mecca

'Trump-like' Indonesian hopeful poised for 2019 presidential bid

Sydney Morning Herald - March 28, 2018

James Massola & Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – The man who lost the 2014 Indonesian presidential election to Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is expected to formally confirm he will contest the 2019 election in a matter of weeks.

And Prabowo Subianto will help ensure that nationalism, the role of Islam in the world's largest Muslim democracy and race will all feature prominently in the election.

Speculation in the Jakarta press about Prabowo's candidacy is ramping up and well-connected figures in Gerindra, Prabowo's political party, have confirmed to Fairfax Media the former general with a checkered human rights record is likely to announce his run in April.

Talk has also turned to who Prabowo's running mate will be, with Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and former military chief Gatot Nurmantyo among the favourites.

Indonesia's complicated electoral system, which requires a presidential candidate to have the support of 20 per cent of MPs currently in the Parliament, means broad coalitions of political parties are formed to reach that threshold.

Gerindra's allies, the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), will likely push hard to nominate one of their own to be Prabowo's running mate.

Australian National University Indonesia expert Dr Marcus Mietzner said that if successful this time round, "Prabowo would be a Trump-like figure: impulsive, populist, erratic and with authoritarian tendencies. There isn't much change in this regard from 2014".

However Mietzner said Prabowo's opponent Joko was no longer "a stark anti-Prabowo alternative. He has absorbed some of the conservatism of his rival. Thus, Indonesia is moving to the right, regardless of who wins".

As in the 2014 election, Joko has a large lead over Prabowo in published opinion polls at this early stage.

He will be relying on the support of his wealthy brother and sections of the business community to throw support, and money, his way to make up ground as he did in what became a very close result last time.

Nationalism, economic populism and the promise he will be a strong leader play a key part in his pitch to voters.

The Jakarta-based political analyst Tobias Basuki, from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said it was difficult to label Prabowo's guiding political philosophy as it was a "hodge-podge".

"He is posturing as a nationalist, but in reality he would be much more pragmatic in government," Basuki said.

An example of that populist, nationalist message is a speech, recently posted on his party's Facebook page, in which Prabowo predicted other countries had made studies that suggested Indonesia would not exist by 2030. In fact, that "research" was in fact a sci-fi novel called Ghost Fleet.

Melbourne University Indonesia expert Professor Tim Lindsey said the 2019 election would likely be very volatile, and predicted Prabowo would "run hard" on issues such as race, religion and identity politics.

"If Anies was anointed vice presidential candidate, he would bring a useful combination of Islamic credentials and middle class appeal for Prabowo," he said.

Prabowo has long been a controversial figure in and outside Indonesia after rising through the ranks of the army in the 1970s and 80s. He has been dogged by allegations of involvement in human rights abuses and crackdowns on independence movements in places such as West Papua and East Timor.

He has also admitted that during student protests after the downfall of former dictator Suharto, his military unit "detained" nine pro-democracy activists and tortured them. He has however denied any knowledge of what happened to 13 other activists who disappeared and one who died during the unrest.

As well as losing in 2014, Prabowo attempted to run in 2004 for the Golkar party but was not selected as their candidate, and he was the losing vice presidential candidate in 2009.

Presidential and vice presidential candidates have until August 10 to nominate. The election will be held in April next year.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/trump-like-indonesian-hopeful-poised-for-2019-presidential-bid-20180328-p4z6p2.html

Prabowo to run for president in 2019, says Rachmawati

Jakarta Post - March 27, 2018

Jakarta – Gerindra Party deputy chairperson Rachmawati Soekarnoputri has confirmed that its chairman, Prabowo Subianto, would run again for the Indonesian presidency in 2019.

"Insya Allah [God willing], Pak Prabowo will run [for president]. Just wait and see," said Rachmawati on Monday evening as quoted by kompas.com, after a meeting at Prabowo's private residence on Jl. Kertanegara, South Jakarta.

Rachmawati, daughter of Indonesia's first president Soekarno, said Prabowo would declare his candidacy soon. She added that the party was holding internal discussions on indentifying the right person to accompany Prabowo as his running mate.

Rachmawati declined to provide details on individuals who were being considered as Prabowo's running mate. "If [Prabowo] wants to join the election, then there must be a running mate. But the name of this person is still a secret," she said, adding that the vice presidential candidate must be able to understand and work together with Prabowo.

"It doesn't matter whether they have a military or civilian background. The most important thing is that they are capable and can work together [with Prabowo]," said Rachmawati. (hol/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/27/prabowo-to-run-for-president-in-2019-says-rachmawati.html

SBY: Indonesia to be strong emerging nation in 2030

Tempo - March 25, 2018

Anwar Siswadi, Bandung – The 6th President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) said Indonesia has optimism in the future as it has many sources of new strength for the country.

The statement was given following the speech delivered by General Chairman of Gerindra Party Prabowo Subianto who declared Indonesia to be dissolved in 2030.

"But perhaps other countries have the speed, and we are slower." However, Indonesia should not lose from any country. "Victory to Indonesia," said SBY in Bandung, Saturday, March 24.

SBY referred to the book by the futurist Alvin Toffler entitled Future Shock and The Third Wave. According to SBY, he had discussed it with the author twice. "The prediction is, a technologically illiterate nation that does not realize the third wave has come will be a losing nation."

The meaning, SBY explained, in this century especially the last 30 years, Indonesia has entered the initial wave of the information age. In Toffler's book, there are three waves of civilization, namely agricultural age, industrial age, and information age.

According to SBY, Indonesia is expected to become a strong emerging nation in 2030. The way is to be superior and competitive in the human resources," he said. Moreover, Indonesia has plenty of natural resources.

Indonesia development said SBY, also increased from one to another leader. "Since President Soekarno, Soeharto, Habibie, Abdurachman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri, I, and President Joko Widodo," he said.

SBY has received an award from the Indonesia University of Computer (Unikom) Bandung. The campus honored SBY as the father of Indonesia's Information Technology Education Development. He expressed his gratitude and proud for the award. "This inspires or motivates and encourage the leaders of this country that this nation is determined by the superiority of its human competitiveness."

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/25/055916974/SBY-Indonesia-to-be-Strong-Emerging-Nation-in-2030

'Ghost Fleet' fiasco: Prabowo defends sci-fi novel as 'scenario writing'

Coconuts Jakarta - March 23, 2018

Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto, the man widely expected to challenge President Joko Widodo again in 2019, has been haunted by Ghost Fleet this week after it was revealed that the foreign "study" upon which he based a fiery speech about Indonesia potentially breaking up by 2030 was actually a sci-fi techno thriller in the vein of Tom Clancy.

After some media outlets (including Coconuts, hey-o!) made the connection between Prabowo's apocalyptic speech, uploaded to Gerindra's social media on Sunday, and earlier talks in which Prabowo had praised the book and mentioned its Indonesia-no-more 2030 prediction, the news blew up and even got the attention of one of Ghost Fleet's authors, Peter W. Singer, who was kind enough (or weirded out enough) to retweet our story.

Indonesian opposition leader cites #GhostFleet in fiery campaign speecheshttps://t.co/cLXJaYnUAK. There have been many unexpected twists and turns from this book experience, but this may take the cake... pic.twitter.com/KcRmUO2nzx – Peter W. Singer (@peterwsinger) March 21, 2018

This led to a great deal of online criticism and sarcastic comments about Prabowo referring to Ghost Fleet as a study:

Deeply apologize for this... rest assure that most Indonesian are educated and can distinct between fiction and futuristic novel. ???? – fajar lukito (@udzo) March 22, 2018

I don't even know how to react cuz this is just unbelievable... absolutely ridiculous ?? https://t.co/rsckaO0wLl – Delia (@delia_a) March 22, 2018

Caution: reading fiction could lead to excessive hallucination https://t.co/CK69B25F53 – Shafira E. Yasmine (@shafirayasmine) March 22, 2018

And our favorite one:

An excerpt of Prabowo's favorite book "Ghost Fleet" featuring cyborg sex scene ???????? pic.twitter.com/2o8ms6YjvI – Veronica Koman (@VeronicaKoman) March 22, 2018

Yesterday, Prabowo acknowledged that he had based the claim in his speech on the novel but defended it, saying it was based on scientific studies done by the Singer and his co-writer, August Cole, who are both security analysts.

"So abroad there is scenario writing, it may be in the form of a novel, but the people who wrote it are strategic intelligence experts," the Gerindra leader said following a keynote address at a discussion at the Millenium Hotel in Jakarta as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Prabowo said the context for Indonesia's failed nation-state status in the novel is based upon the country's resources having been controlled entirely by foreigners, something he warned about in his speech and seemed to preview a platform of economic nationalism upon which he might base his 2019 campaign.

He went on to say that he felt it was his obligation to warn the country about this potential threat but that it was okay if the public chose not to believe him.

"This is a real phenomenon, so if you do not want to believe me, you do not want to hear that, that's okay. It's my obligation as a citizen, I have to speak up when I see danger."

Besides the derisive online reactions, Ghost Fleet gate has also received a wide variety of comments from politicians. His fellow Gerindra politicians, of course, defended Prabowo's use of the novel's prediction and agreed it was an important warning to the country.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla called out the book's fictive premise but said the prediction was still theoretically possible and something the country should be concerned about.

"If we do not maintain unity, it could happen like in the Balkans, in Russia, the Soviet Union, that often happens, divisions," Kalla said as quoted by Tribun.

Much harsher words were spoken by Andreas Hugo Pareira, the chairman of ruling party PDI-P's central executive board, saying that Prabowo should keep his concerns for the country based in reality.

"Do not get bogged down in empty visions, false worries and hallucinations that sweep us apart, it is better for us to face challenges with hard work, together," Andreas said as quoted by Detik.

"It's a shame the people who are considered leaders bring us down with their wayward imaginations," he added.

Prabowo, who has already been endorsed as Gerindra's candidate by many of the party's factions, is said to be planning to officially announce his candidacy in early April.

However, delays in that announcement, as well as the false report by one Gerindra leader that former Indonesian military commander Gatot Nurmantyo has joined the party as a potential candidate (Gatot later denied that, saying he had only been invited to join Gerindra during a meeting with Prabowo) have led some to speculate that Prabowo's presidential run is less than assured and other options are still being considered.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/ghost-fleet-fiasco-prabowo-defends-sci-fi-novel-scenario-writing-says-ok-people-dont-believe/

Prabowo clarifies statement of Indonesia no longer exist in 2030

Tempo - March 23, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto responded to the public's reaction following his recent controversial speech where he said that Indonesia would no longer exist by 2030.

"There is a paper about that issue, there are many discussions about things like that on the global stage," said Prabowo Subianto to a group of journalists in Jakarta on Thursday, March 22.

Prabowo made it clear that there are scenarios upon writings that may come in the form of a novel but is written by strategic intelligence experts. "You go ahead and read it first, you haven't, have you?" asked Prabowo to the journalists there.

According to Prabowo, the reason he mentioned it was to remind everyone to never put their guard down on issues that are present in the nation. He argues that many countries envy Indonesia's natural wealth since its inception and that Indonesia's natural wealth has been robbed for hundreds of years.

"You studied history, didn't you? You know your history? You know that we were colonized by the Dutch? You know many have died because of that? They came here because of our rich natural resources. Even after the independence, [some] want to continue to divide us, it has always been that way," said Prabowo.

He further said that Indonesia must always be aware of impending threats and should not be too nave to see that many are envious of the country's natural resources.

The Gerindra chairman views this as a phenomenon and has no problem if the Indonesian public believes him or not. "It is my duty as an Indonesian, I must tell it as it is when I see a threat," said Prabowo Subianto.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/23/055916927/Prabowo-Clarifies-Statement-of-Indonesia-No-Longer-Exist-in-2030

In Indonesia, a shadowy campaign to stoke unrest as elections loom

Reuters - March 23, 2018

Tom Allard, Agustinus Beo Da Costa & Kanupriya Kapoor, Bandung – A spate of mysterious attacks on Islamic clerics, schools and mosques in Indonesia in recent weeks has ramped up tensions as the world's most populous Muslim-majority country heads into provincial elections and a presidential poll next year.

Intelligence and Islamic officials believe that political forces are behind what they describe as a shadowy "black campaign" designed to whip up fear that Islam itself is under siege under the leadership of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

In one town near the capital, Jakarta, a mosque manager was stabbed and a religious scholar received an anonymous letter warning that 10 clerics would be killed. Videos of what police say are fake attacks on Muslim clerics and schools have also been distributed on social media, heightening a mood of unease.

The attacks on the heavily populated island of Java have come as hardline Muslim groups press for a more conservative society and decry moderate politicians, posing a threat to Indonesia's reputation for tolerance and the democracy it won with the downfall of authoritarian President Suharto in 1998.

Indeed, there are echoes today of the panics stirred up by Suharto, which typically involved attacks on religious figures and institutions and sometimes a communist scare to discredit politicians.

Elections are due across the country in June for dozens of governors, district heads and mayors. Analysts see those polls as an opening skirmish before 2019's battle for the presidency.

Ridwan Kamil, mayor of the city of Bandung and frontrunner to become governor of West Java province, says he has been hounded for months by hoax stories online that questioned the strength of his Islamic faith.

"If you are not a Muslim, they will label you an infidel. If you are Muslim, they will label you not Islamic enough," Kamil said of his opponents in an interview with Reuters, declining to identify them.

"They're trying to send a message... that the country is not safe, that the government is failing, that we need to replace the existing government. Who gets the benefit? Whoever challenges Jokowi," he said, referring to President Widodo, whom he supports for re-election, by his nickname.

A campaign to sow discord

The potency of religion as a swing factor in elections was graphically illustrated last year when the popular governor of Jakarta, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic-Chinese Christian and close ally of Jokowi, lost his bid for re-election after being accused of insulting the Koran.

An online video of him speaking had been edited to make it seem that he was criticizing the Koran when in fact he was sniping at people who use a passage of Islam's holy book to warn Muslims against voting for non-Muslims.

Ahok's ouster was spearheaded by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a hardline group that organized huge protests against him in late 2016. He was later jailed for blasphemy.

Reuters investigations into the recent attacks in Java showed that the FPI has been involved in stoking the tensions.

National Police chief Tito Karnavian says the wave of violence has not been "massive or systematic," and he blames online activists for "spicing up" anxiety among Muslims. There have only been three actual assaults and about 42 fake attacks were promoted online, he said.

Even so, intelligence officials, Islamic leaders and politicians say there is a concerted effort to sow discord through vandalism and threats to Islamic leaders, schools and mosques, reinforced through social media. Intelligence agency chief Budi Gunawan described it as a "rampant black campaign."

A leader of the Islamic Union, a mainstream organization known as Persis, was killed in the early hours of Feb. 1 by a man wielding an iron bar. Senior Persis leaders told Reuters that 22 of the group's schools, mosques and teachers had been vandalized or received abusive phone calls since that incident.

Someone, said Persis deputy chairman Jeje Zaenudin, is trying to "provoke a reaction."

Mahmud Syaltout, deputy secretary general of the youth wing of Indonesia's largest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), said NU schools and mosques have been targeted.

One man who was caught vandalizing a mosque in East Java appeared to be healthy and feigning madness, he said.

Jokowi's chief of staff, retired military chief Moeldoko, told local media someone was playing "old games," noting that deploying mentally ill people to create unrest was a tactic that harked back to the Suharto era.

Red scare

Pressed by Jokowi, the NU and another moderate Islamic group, Muhammadiyah, have stepped up grassroots efforts to combat fundamentalist movements. According to a recent survey, nearly 20 percent of high school and university students support the establishment of an caliphate rather than a secular state.

On social media, much of the blame for the recent attacks has been laid on "communists" who critics say have been allowed to flourish under Jokowi and his left-leaning Indonesia Democratic Party-Struggle.

The government and independent analysts have said there is no credible evidence of a revival of Indonesia's outlawed communist party (PKI), once the world's second-largest. The party was decimated after soldiers and Islamic vigilantes slaughtered – according to some estimates – at least 500,000 alleged leftists and their families in 1965.

Even so, Islamists, ultra-nationalists and elements of the military frequently warn of a resurgence. Analysts see the fomenting of a "red scare" as partly aimed at Jokowi, a reformist and moderate who has often been falsely labelled by enemies as a descendant of communists.

Earlier this year, a homeless man, suspected of planning to attack a cleric at an Islamic boarding school in West Java, was beaten and accused of being a communist.

The man was accosted by students as he paced up and down a lane by their school near the town of Bogor around 3 a.m. on Feb. 10, said Mahmud Mukhlis, one of the students.

A pin was found inside the vagrant's bag that a local cadre of the FPI Islamic group declared was "a symbol of the PKI," Mukhlis said. The pin, viewed by Reuters, was in fact a name tag from a high school emblazoned with an eagle, Indonesia's national symbol.

Members of FPI filmed the assault and shared the video on social media, said Mukhlis.

Slamet Maarif, a spokesman for FPI, did not deny his group was behind the video. He said it needed to be proven that the homeless man's "communist" plot was a hoax, and described the incident as evidence of "an awakening" of the communist party.

"The government should be following up, and not accusing the people of spreading a hoax," Slamet said.

Muslim Cyber Army

Police have arrested about 20 members of a network of online activists for spreading fake news about attacks on religious figures across Java.

Known as the Muslim Cyber Army (MCA), the network was formed after the government shut down some of FPI's websites and social media accounts following anti-Purnama demonstrations in 2016.

Police say they are investigating who funds and directs the MCA. FPI leaders have frequently praised the network, and have urged police to stop harassing it.

For a decade, West Java province has been ruled by a coalition of nationalist and conservative Islamic parties that support Prabowo Subianto, a former Suharto-era special forces commander who lost the 2014 presidential election to Jokowi.

In that contest, Jokowi was buffeted by an online smear campaign that he came from a family of communists and had Chinese ancestry. Warnings of a communist comeback are often linked to a surge in Chinese investment and workers in Indonesia, part of Jokowi's drive to revamp the country's crumbling infrastructure. Prabowo is expected to again challenge Jokowi, a moderate reformer currently riding high in opinion polls, in next year's election.

Prabowo was buoyed by the victory of a candidate he backed in last year's Jakarta governor election, but his Gerindra party's contestant to become governor in West Java is well behind Ridwan in opinion surveys.

Gerindra's deputy secretary general, Ahmad Reza Patria, said the party had no links to the "vile and extraordinary acts" in Java. Prabowo has not commented publicly on the incidents.

Bandung Mayor Ridwan said he has stepped up security patrols in his city following the wave of attacks, but he is in no doubt that they are politically motivated.

"In my opinion, it is orchestrated," he said. "It's not just a person, but an organization trying to benefit politically through fear."

[Additional reporting by Jessica Damiana.]

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-shadowy-campaign-stoke-unrest-elections-loom/

Blasphemy & hate speech

Justice presiding over Ahok's case review petition denies FPI link

Jakarta Post - March 31, 2018

Jakarta – Supreme Court justice Artidjo Alkostar, who presided over a case review petition filed by former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, has denied claims that he is closely connected to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). "That's wrong, very wrong," Artidjo told Tempo on Saturday.

The court announced on Monday that a panel of justices led by Artidjo had rejected Ahok's petition against his conviction, which sentenced him to two years in prison for defaming Islam.

A series of sectarian rallies spearheaded by the FPI preceded the conviction, read on May 9, 2017. The rallies demanded that the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who led Jakarta with Ahok as his deputy governor between 2012 and 2014, prosecute Ahok for blasphemy.

Ahok's legal defense team submitted the case review plea last month, saying that it was based on an error by the North Jakarta District Court judges in issuing their verdict against the controversial politician.

Reports about the alleged Artidjo-FPI connection emerged on Thursday. The reports are based on a 2014 statement by FPI leader Rizieq Shihab saying that Artidjo was a chairman of the FPI's law and human rights division before taking a job as Supreme Court justice in 2000.

Artidjo, meanwhile, said he had never been involved in any activities of the FPI. He said he had previously defended non-Muslim minorities in several cases during his law career, which includes a three-year stint as a Human Rights Watch lawyer for its Asia Division and a seven-year stint as director of Yogyakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Yogyakarta).

"I once defended the Catholics in East Timor and Romo Mangun in Code River [in Yogyakarta], so it's impossible [that I have a connection with the FPI]," said Artidjo, referring to Catholic activist Yusuf Bilyarta Mangunwijaya, who defended residents living on the banks of Code River who were facing eviction by the then New Order administration. (mos/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/31/justice-presiding-over-ahoks-case-review-petition-denies-fpi-link.html

Report links presiding justice of Ahok's case review to FPI

Jakarta Post - March 29, 2018

Jakarta – Three days after the Supreme Court rejected former Jakarta governor Basuk "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's petition for a case review into his blasphemy conviction, a report has emerged in a regional newspaper that the justice who presided over the petition's hearing, Artidjo Alkostar, was closely connected to the radical Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and its founder, Rizieq Shihab.

Rizieq was a key figure behind the public protests against Ahok during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, which ended with the former governor, who is a Christian of ethnic Chinese ancestry, being convicted for blasphemy case last May.

Ahok filed his request for a case review on Feb. 2, about nine months after his conviction and sentencing.

Quoting Rizieq, tribunnews.com reported that Artidjo was the head of FPI's legal division in 2014, just before Artidjo was appointed as a Supreme Court justice.

Ahok's lawyer Josefina Agatha Syukur said on Wednesday that she was aware of the report. "We're taking [the media report] into account," she said.

"We'll wait until the court hands over the official document [rejecting Ahok's petition] to us before taking further legal steps," Josefina added.

Presiding justice Artidjo, along with Supreme Court justices Salman Luthan and Margiatmo, rejected Ahok's legal challenge to his conviction by the North Jakarta District Court, which sentenced him to two years in prison.

Jakarta FPI secretary-general Novel Bamukmin, however, claimed that the report was wrong about the relationship between Artidjo and Rizieq.

"It's not true. They [Artidjo and Rizieq] probably met once or twice," Novel told tempo.co on Wednesday.

Artidjo has yet to respond to the controversy over the news report. The Supreme Court justice has presided over several infamous graft cases in which he convicted a number of state officials and politicians. (vla)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/29/report-links-presiding-justice-of-ahoks-case-review-to-fpi.html

Judge who rejected Ahok's judicial review was FPI's legal counsel says

Coconuts Jakarta - March 29, 2018

Not many people were surprised by the news that the judicial review (PK) filed by former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama challenging his controversial blasphemy conviction had been rejected on Monday.

Despite the glaring legal contradiction forming the basis of Ahok's PK, the Supreme Court judges overseeing it apparently did not find that a persuasive argument to overturn his original conviction and 2 year prison sentence.

The full decision detailing the judge's reasons for rejecting Ahok's PK has not yet been released but it has recently come to light that the head judge in the case, Artidjo Alkostar, had a very close relationship with the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and its leader, the fugitive Rizieq Shihab, as detailed by Rizieq himself on numerous occasions in the past.

The FPI, and Rizieq in particular, were of course instrumental in organizing the massive anti-Ahok protests that took place in late 2016 over the former governor's alleged blasphemy against the Quran. Many (including many of the Islamists organizers themselves, now) say the protests were heavily politicized and ultimately responsible for Ahok's election loss and conviction.

Although there is quite a bit of evidence showing the relationship between Judge Artidjo and the FPI, it was most clearly explained by Rizieq himself during a discussion held by the Alumni Association of the Islamic University of Indonesia (UII) on March 4, 2014, titled "Harapan Penegakan Hukum, Fenomena Artidjo Alkostar" (Hope of Law Enforcement, the Phenomenon of Artidjo Alkostar).

The discussion featured several prominent figures speaking about Artidjo and Rizieq was one of them. Based on several contemporaneous reports about the event, including one by legal news portal Hukum Online, the FPI founder talked at length about his long and close relationship with Artidjo.

Rizieq told the audience that Artidjo had first come to FPI headquarters to talk with him about the group's activities, including to criticize those which were illegal and had made them a target of the media.

"Finally, we asked him to be our (FPI's) legal counsel. And he also provided legal awareness education to the FPI board," Rizieq said as quoted by Hukum Online.

The FPI leader said Artidjo was diligent in helping out the organization and would visit FPI HQ at least once a week. Eventually he asked Artidjo to lead FPI's "Department of Justice and Human Rights", a position Rizieq said he held until he became a Supreme Court judge.

After the news about Artidjo's alleged relationship to FPI emerged again in the media following his decision on Ahok's PK, the secretary general of FPI Jakarta, Novel Bamukmin (of Fitsa Hats infamy – no we're never forgetting that) contradicted the words of Rizieq and denied the news. Sort of.

"That's not true (regarding Artidjo being FPI's legal counsel). Maybe he was close in that he (Artidjo) had come to socialize, that might be possible," Novel told Tempo on yesterday.

However, Novel also said that he had known Rizieq since 1993 but had never met Artidjo in all of that time.

One of Ahok's lawyers, Josefina Agatha Syukur, said she had heard about the judge's connection to FPI but said that they would wait until the full decision was released by the court before taking any action.

While few were surprised that Ahok's PK was rejected, many were shocked last month when his legal originally announced their decision to file for a judicial review, considering that Ahok is already nearly one year into his 2-year sentence and he had previous decided against filing an appeal against the verdict.

However, a PK is legally distinct from an appeal and carries fewer risks (such as the possibility of having one's prison sentence increased if they lose their appeal). A PK can be filed on the basis of new evidence or circumstances in a case.

For Ahok's PK, the major new piece of evidence is the guilty verdict in the case of Buni Yani, the man who uploaded a short clip of a speech Ahok gave in the Thousand Islands that contained the alleged blasphemy against Islam.

Buni Yani was sentenced in November for spreading hate speech by sharing just a 30-second clip of the nearly 2-hour long speech (along with an inaccurate transcript). The incendiary clip was the primary incitement for the anti-Ahok protests that eventually led to the former governor's election loss and imprisonment.

As we understand the argument from Ahok's side, the verdict in his case and Buni Yani's case are based on directly contradictory legal opinions.

Buni Yani was convicted largely because the judges said that his editing of the clip had been meant to incite hatred, and yet in Ahok's case the judge determined that the clip being edited had not affected the blasphemous nature of what Ahok had said about a verse from the Koran.

Ahok was convicted of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to two years in prison in May 2017.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/head-judge-rejected-ahoks-judicial-review-used-fpis-legal-counsel-according-rizieq/

Former Indonesian Christian governor loses blasphemy appeal

Sydney Morning Herald - March 27, 2018

James Massola & Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – The Christian former governor of Jakarta has had a request to slash his two-year jail term for blasphemy rejected by the Supreme Court, in a blow to religious tolerance and pluralism in Indonesia.

The ruling could prompt a rise in the use of blasphemy laws by conservative Muslims to target liberal Muslims and non-Muslims, according to Human Right Watch Indonesia's Andreas Harsono.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, widely known as Ahok, was jailed in May last year in a case that grabbed worldwide headlines.

Ahok had served as deputy governor to Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and took over the governorship of Indonesia's largest city in 2014 when Mr Joko was elected president.

A political maverick, Ahok was widely popular with local residents, but became a target for conservative Islamic groups who argued he had blasphemed by suggesting that some Muslims were "deceived" by verse 51 of the fifth chapter of the Koran, which some interpret as prohibiting Muslims from living under the leadership of a non-Muslim.

A spokesman for the Court, Suhadi, confirmed to Fairfax Media the panel of three justices, chaired by Artidjo Alkotsar, had rejected Ahok's request for a judicial review of his sentence. He will now serve the remaining one year and two months of his sentence.

Harsono said that if Indonesia, a majority-Muslim nation of about 260 million people, wanted to protect democratic values, religious freedoms and pluralism then the blasphemy laws should be scrapped.

"This ruling means that the blasphemy laws can be used by conservative Muslim groups for political purposes to target their nemeses, including non-Muslims and liberal Muslims," he said.

"About 76 per cent of all countries in the world do not have or enforce blasphemy laws, but in Indonesia it is being enforced more and more."

Harsono said the laws, which were introduced in 1965, were only used eight times in the 40 years until 2004.

But in the decade after the election of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as president in late 2004, there had been 89 cases brought to court and 89 people jailed for blasphemy. Under his successor Jokowi, another 17 people had been jailed for blasphemy.

"It's what we call a 'rubber law'," Harsono said, referring to the potential for the law's wide application and its subjectivity, "but the problem is, God can't testify in these cases".

University of NSW lecturer Melissa Crouch, an expert in Indonesia's blasphemy laws, said the court's decision to reject a reduction in Ahok's sentence was unsurprising.

"We are clearly seeing in the lead up to local elections this year, and the presidential election next year, that religion is becoming more prominent. Parties are using it to gain voter support," she said.

"It's a difficult situation. Rather than candidates' track record and policies, the overriding concern is religion and religious affiliation."

Both Ahok, a Christian who is also ethnically Chinese, and Jokowi – who is a Muslim – have come under attack from political opponents and conservative religious groups over matters of faith in recent years.

Harsono also pointed out that Buni Yani, the man who selectively edited and distributed the video of Ahok's comments that provoked such outrage and prompted huge anti-Ahok rallies by groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), was subsequently found guilty of spreading hate speech.

Buni was sentenced to one and a half years jail but he is appealing that sentence.

The two largest Islamic organisations in Indonesia, the Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), have previously said they have no problem with a Muslim voting for a non-Muslim.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/former-indonesian-christian-governor-loses-blasphemy-appeal-20180326-p4z6dj.html

Supreme Court rejects Ahok's judicial review for blasphemy conviction

Coconuts Jakarta - March 26, 2018

Supporters of former Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama hoping for the reduction of his controversial blasphemy sentence would be massively disappointed as the Supreme Court (MA) this afternoon rejected his judicial review (PK).

The decision was reached by the three MA judges overseeing the judicial review, as confirmed by MA spokesperson Suhadi. "It's been decided. The outcome is rejection," he said, as quoted by Detik.

Many were shocked last month to learn about Ahok and his legal team's decision to file a PK, considering that he is already nearly one year into his 2-year sentence and he had previous decided against filing an appeal against the verdict.

However, a PK is legally distinct from an appeal and carries fewer risks (such as the possibility of having one's prison sentence increased if they lose their appeal). A PK can be filed on the basis of new evidence or circumstances in a case.

For Ahok's PK, the major new piece of evidence is the guilty verdict in the case of Buni Yani, the man who uploaded a short clip of a speech Ahok gave in the Thousand Islands that contained the alleged blasphemy against Islam.

Buni Yani was sentenced in November for spreading hate speech by sharing just a 30-second clip of the nearly 2-hour long speech (along with an inaccurate transcript). The incendiary clip was the primary incitement for the anti-Ahok protests that eventually led to the former governor's election loss and imprisonment.

As we understand the argument from Ahok's side, the verdict in his case and Buni Yani's case are based on directly contradictory legal opinions.

Buni Yani was convicted largely because the judges said that his editing of the clip had been meant to incite hatred, and yet in Ahok's case the judge determined that the clip being edited had not affected the blasphemous nature of what Ahok had said about a verse from the Koran.

Ahok was convicted of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to two years in prison in May 2017.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/supreme-court-rejects-ahoks-judicial-review-blasphemy-conviction/

Environment & natural disasters

Study: Indonesia's ambitious peat restoration initiative severely

Mongabay - March 30, 2018

Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – High costs and a lack of funding stand in the way of Indonesia achieving its target for the restoration of degraded peatland across the country, a new study says.

The government in 2016 embarked on a program to restore 20,000 square kilometers (7,720 square miles) of degraded peat forest by 2020. The cost for this undertaking, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, will likely exceed $4.6 billion.

To date, however, the Indonesian government has budgeted just $200 million for the initiative, according to the study, and the results are telling: only 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) of peatland, or 10 percent of the total, had been rewetted by the end of 2017.

That funding includes 34 million Norwegian krone ($4.4 million) from the Norwegian government and $134.6 million from the U.S., U.K., Japan, Germany and the Netherlands. For its part, the Indonesian government initially allocated the equivalent of $60.5 million from its 2017 spending budget.

The $200 million figure cited in the study, though, used the lowest cost projections available and did not account for the subsequent slashing of Indonesia's contribution by half, as part of wider cost-cutting measures by the Ministry of Finance.

Preventing fires

The peat-restoration initiative was born out of the need to prevent the kinds of land and forest fires that devastated huge swaths of the country in 2015. While such fires are an annual occurrence linked to the clearing of land for commercial agriculture, the burning and haze in 2015 were exacerbated by the draining of peat forests, which render the permanently moist peat soil dry and highly combustible.

Peat forests are globally significant both for their ability to store carbon dioxide and for their biodiversity. In Indonesia, peatlands in Sumatra are home to critically endangered species such as orangutans, rhinos and tigers.

"Restoring peat will, therefore, be critical not only for Indonesia to achieve its emission reduction target, but also to provide habitat for these species," Amanda Hansson, a co-author of the new study, told Mongabay.

To protect these landscapes, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in 2016 established the Peatland Restoration Agency, or BRG.

Hansson and her team used data from the BRG to examine the case of peatland restoration in Sumatra, Papua and Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. They classified peat forests based on their fire, logging and drainage histories, as well as their current hydrological conditions.

They found that peat areas with low-intensity fires were more easily restored than those that had experienced high-intensity fires, with the former showing greater signs of unassisted recovery compared to the latter.

But the biggest determinant of the total cost of restoration, the researchers found, is the width of the canals dug to drain the peat soil in preparation for planting. The wider the canals, typically associated with oil palm plantations, the more difficult, and more expensive, it is to restore the peat areas, Hansson said.

"I was particularly surprised by the high cost associated with restoring wide canals, which can reach up to $23,500 per hectare," or about $9,500 per acre, she said. "Restoring peat which has been drained using large-scale canals can quickly become very expensive."

Restoring or rewetting small-scale agricultural landscapes, however, is relatively inexpensive, starting at around $400 per hectare. These areas typically have much smaller canals that can be dammed much more cheaply.

Funding gap

Peat areas that have been drained and burned for commercial use make up the bulk of BRG's working area, driving the potential cost of the entire endeavor to $4.6 billion, the study estimated.

The stark difference between the actual funding allocated and the money required to successfully restore the targeted 20,000 square kilometers of peatland leaves Indonesia facing a difficult decision, Hansson said.

"This shortfall means Indonesia will have to choose between using best-practice methods in smaller areas or using cheaper and potentially ineffective restoration methods to reinstate larger areas of degraded peat forest," she said.

The government, she added, would have to address the shortfall if it wanted to meet the target.

"Attracting global funding will be essential for Indonesia in realizing this target, and developing a cost estimate may help in highlighting the need for international support in this process," Hansson said.

When asked about the findings, BRG head Nazir Foead said he had not yet read the study but would look into it.

Source: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/03/study-indonesias-ambitious-peat-restoration-initiative-severely-underfunded/

Plastic producers reject excise, refuse to take blame for waste

Jakarta Post - March 27, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Olefin, Aromatic and Plastic Industry Association (Inaplas) has voiced its objection to a planned excise on plastic and refuses to take the blame for the acute problem of plastic pollution.

Inaplas deputy chairman Suhat Miyarso said in a statement on Tuesday that the main issue of plastic waste was the failure of authorities to create effective waste management, including the plastic waste, not the increasing use of plastic products, particularly plastic bags.

"Imposing an excise on plastic will have wide impacts on the plastics industry and related industries that use plastics, which are mostly small and medium enterprises," said Suhat in a statement received by The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He argued that imposing an excise on plastic would also affect the investment climate, particularly in the plastics industry, which certainly would impact the upstream petrochemical industry.

On Monday, the Finance Ministry's customs and excise director general, Heru Pambudi, said the government would start imposing an excise on plastics in May, as the draft of a government regulation on the matter was being discussed by the relevant agencies.

He said the Finance Ministry was targeting Rp 500 billion (US$35 million) in additional state budget revenue from the new excise.

Suhat said that, instead of imposing an excise on plastic, the government needed to improve waste management by involving the people, whose awareness to protecting the environment was beginning to grow, as indicated by the emergence of NGOs campaigning for reducing reusing, recycling garbage. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/27/plastic-producers-reject-excise-refuse-to-take-blame-for-waste.html

Erin the elephant's plight casts spotlight on conservation in Indonesia

Straits Times - March 24, 2018

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Jakarta – The plight of Erin the baby elephant, who was found in a poacher's trap with a severed trunk, has received national attention this week after her story was told online.

The Sumatran elephant was discovered in July 2016 when she was two years old near a housing settlement in Lampung province's Susukan Baru area, within the 1,300 sqkm Way Kambas National Park. She was weak, thin and had pinworm in her intestine. Her trunk was severed about 10cm from the distal edge, an injury likely sustained when she fell into the trap, Kompas.com reported on Wednesday (March 21). Erin was taken to the nearby Rubini Atmawidjaja Elephant Hospital.

Actress Wulan Guritno expressed her grievance on Instagram account and appealed to her 2.4 million followers to save Sumatran elephants, and donate for Erin. "So sad seeing this young elephant. Erin needs assistance when she feeds herself," Wulan said in her post.

The Way Kambas national park housed 248 wild elephants, as per the last census in 2010. The park's rehabilitation centre has 66 tamed elephants, including Erin.

Dr Diah Esti Anggraini, a vet at the elephant hospital, told Kompas that Erin's physical condition was weak due to the injury. She had been left behind by a group of wild elephants and could not keep up.

Like other injured elephants left behind by their herds, she relied on her survival instincts and walked towards a settlement.

Since her rescue, Erin has been learning to eat without using her trunk. "She manoeuvres her front limbs to help pick up food or sometimes bends them to reach food," Dr Diah said.

Sumatran elephants are critically endangered. Illegal ivory trade and dwindling habitat due to deforestation have raised fears that elephants could become extinct within decades.

On Feb 12, a female Sumatran elephant aged around 20 was found dead with her tusks removed, in Way Kambas national park, which is also home to critically endangered Sumatran rhinos and tigers. There were five bullet wounds in her chest and head, Kompas.com also reported, citing the park's patrol officials.

This came a month after a male Sumatran elephant was found dead with its tusks removed in a protected forest in South Sumatra.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/erin-the-elephants-plight-casts-spotlight-on-conservation-in-indonesia

LGBT & same-sex marriage

Politician warns 'rampant' LGBT people are destroying Indonesia

Gay Star News - March 27, 2018

Shannon Power – One of Indonesia's most powerful politicians has warned LGBT people, drugs and promiscuity are running 'rampant' and 'damaging' the country.

Zulkifli Hasan, is the chair of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). He was speaking at a Motivation Seminar in a series of Spirit Of Indonesia Roadshows aimed at inspiring young people.

Zulkifli warned the young people at the seminar that globalization and modernization were running 'unchecked' in Indonesia. He said issues like LGBT people, drugs and promiscuity were running 'rampant' and were destroying the quality of Indonesian youth.

'The fact is very sad, we even lose who we are, because of the loss of identity and values,' Zulkifli said in his speech.

'Incoming foreign values are believed to be great and followed by people. Then with that comes the rush of LGBT lifestyle, liquor, promiscuity, drugs which will be unstoppable again [in Indonesia].'

Anti-LGBTI politicians

Indonesia is heading into elections at all levels of government in 2019, and politicians have already started campaigning.

Including Zulkifli who in January whipped the public into fear after falsely saying the parliament was going to vote on a same-sex marriage bill. But the reality was that the parliament is considering voting in favor to criminalize homosexuality.

At the time The Jakarta Post criticized Zulkifli's position on the LGBT community as a deliberate political strategy.

'We appear to be witnessing the emergence of "Trumpism", where spinning hate is becoming the new norm in Indonesian politics. What a sorry state of affairs,' the editorial read.

The LGBT community has been used to stoke fears of the public by many politicians in the lead-up to the election. Increased religious fundamentalism and disapproval from authorities has seen a rising crackdown on LGBT people in Indonesia.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/politician-warns-rampant-lgbt-people-destroying-indonesia/

Politician who lied about same-sex marriage bill now claims 'rampant'

Kumparan - March 23, 2018

Wahyu Amuk, Padang – If Indonesia does not properly address the era of globalisation and modernisation there will be negative impacts with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lifestyles, drugs and free sex running rampant, which will destroy the nation's younger generation.

These negative behaviours have made Indonesia the country with the 5th largest number of LGBT people in the world, and there are six million drug users, the majority of which are young people.

This statement was made by People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker and National Mandate Party (PAN) chairperson Zulkifli Hasan in a speech at the opening of a motivational seminar as part of the Spirit of Indonesia Road Show, organised in cooperation with the Our Indonesia movement and the Padang State University (UNP) at the UNP Auditorium in Padang, West Sumatra, on Thursday March 22.

"The factual cause of these rampant negative impacts, is the loss of the nation's identity and sense of self in the hearts of the younger generation", said Hasan who is known by his friends Zulhasan.

The loss of the younger generation's identity, according to Hasan, can be seen from the large numbers of young people who do not know who they are, do not understand their origins and the social conditions of their regions, and do not even have a concept of the glorious generational values they have inherited.

In the broader context, Hasan added, the loss of national values and identity will result in the loss of an understanding of Pancasila [the state ideology] democracy.

He said that the democratic values of Pancasila have been replaced by feelings of mutual suspicion, slander and the spread of fake news simply for political interests.

"The fact is there is a lot of fear, we have even lost our sense of self, because of this loss of identity and values. The importation of foreign values, which are in fact negative, are seen as being okay, terrific and to be followed. So the invasion of LGBT lifestyles, liquor, free sex, drugs, can no longer be held back", he explained to the thousands of students present.

Furthermore, he explained, the impact of these negative behaviours is making the people hostile to each other and creating conflicts simply on account of different political choices. So Hasan hopes that the younger generation will and must straighten out the nation's identity.

In addition to this, he urged the students and all academic activities at UNP to become the pioneers in strengthening unity. One aspect of which is implementing the values of Pancasila in daily life.

"Let us return to the nation's glorious values. Knit together and revive the magnificent the red-and-white [national flag] that is in tatters", he said speaking before an audience which included the UNP deputy director. (why)


Zulkifli is the same politician who in January created a public uproar after falsely claiming that there were a number of political parties that back the legalisation of LGBT and would support a same-sex marriage bill. The remarks were widely seen as an attempt to put pressure on the political parties to support the inclusion of articles in the draft Criminal Code to criminalise homosexually and extra-marital sex.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Indonesia Peringkat ke-5 Besar LGBT di Dunia".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/wahyu-amuk/indonesia-peringkat-ke-5-besar-lgbt-di-dunia

Health & education

Health minister says tapeworm infected fish 'contain protein', so safe to eat

Detik News - March 29, 2018

Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta – The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) has ordered the withdrawal of several brands of canned mackerel because they contain tapeworms.

Health Minister Nila F Moeloek however says that the tapeworms are not a big problem for the human body as long as they are cooked properly.

"The worms actually contain protein, I think I could give several examples. If they are cooked I think they would be sterile right. God willing it will not cause (illness)", said Moeloek at the House of Representatives (DPR) building at the parliamentary complex in Senayan, Jakarta, on Thursday March 29.

Moeloek claimed that she was unaware of BPOM's order to withdraw 27 brands of canned mackerel from circulation. According to Moeloek, the issued doesn't need to be blown out of proportion to the point of creating fear among the public.

"Not always the small things it's all been coordinated [sic]. If they (BPOM) have resolved it, then there's a resolution, I think that's enough", she said.

As has been reported, the BPOM has conducted sampling and tests on 541 samples of canned fish comprising 66 brands. The results showed that 27 brands (138 products) contained worm parasites, including 16 imported brands and 11 domestic brands.

It is also known that these domestic brands use raw materials originating from imports. The BPOM has also ordered importers and producers to withdraw the products from the market and destroy them.

The canned mackerel contaminated by tapeworms are suspected to have originated from the China Sea. Although the parasites are not dangerous, they could be a problem for some people.

"It depends on the individual, case by case. The worms have protein right, but they may create problems for certain people who could be allergic. Just the same as eggs, in general there isn't a problem right, but for some there are problems", said food expert Prof Dr Hardinsyah from the Sahid University in Jakarta.

The BPOM itself says that the worms that were found were already dead. BPOM chief Penny K Lukito also suggested that the worms in the canned mackerel are not automatically poisonous or dangerous to the body.

"The worms found were already dead, after we investigated what the consequences would be and the like, because they were found to be dead, perhaps an expert could explain, the effect is that there are no dangerous chemicals", said Lukito on Wednesday March 28. (tsa/elz)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Ada Parasit di Produk Makarel, Menkes: Cacing Isinya Protein".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/3943526/ada-parasit-di-produk-makarel-menkes-cacing-isinya-protein

Corruption & abuse of power

Dozens of North Sumatra councillors named graft suspects

Jakarta Post - March 31, 2018

Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has named 38 members and former members of the North Sumatra Legislative Council as graft suspects.

KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo said they were suspected of accepting bribes in the form of gifts or promises from Gatot Pujo Nugroho, the former governor of North Sumatra.

The KPK had sent a notification letter on March 29 to the North Sumatra legislative speaker about the investigation, Agus said, as reported by Antara.

Among the implicated councillors are Rijal Sirait, Rinawati Sianturi, Rooslynda Marpaung, Fadly Nurzal, Abu Bokar Tambak, Enda Mora Lubi and M Yusuf Siregar.

In March last year, the Medan Corruption Court found Gatot guilty of bribery and sentenced him to four years in prison and a fine of Rp 250 million (US$18,664).

The judges said Gatot had paid Rp 61.8 billion in bribes to members of North Sumatra's legislative council to smoothen deliberations on the provincial budget. (gis/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/31/dozens-of-north-sumatra-councillors-named-graft-suspects.html

Nur Alam gets 12 years for bribery linked to ecological destruction

Jakarta Post - March 29, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – The Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced suspended Southeast Sulawesi governor Nur Alam to 12 years in prison on Wednesday in a case linked to several mining licenses that led to environmental destruction in Buton, Southeast Sulawesi.

The court, which also ordered Nur to pay a fine of Rp 1 billion (US$72,700) and restitution of Rp 2.7 billion, found the National Mandate Party (PAN) politician guilty of misusing his authority to grant mining licenses between 2009 and 2014 to nickel miner PT Anugerah Harisma Barakah (AHB) in which he owns a 2 percent stake under the name of his aide.

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors called for a sentence of 18 years.

Presiding judge Diah Siti Basariah said there had been mitigating factors behind the court's verdict, such as Nur's many awards he received while serving as governor.

The state losses, Rp 1.5 trillion, were also lower than the Rp 4.3 trillion the prosecutors argued in their indictment, which included Rp 2.7 trillion in environmental destruction caused by the miner. The panel of judges said the environmental destruction was not Nur's responsibility, but the company's. The company had tried to rehabilitate the area, the judges said.

The court also stripped him of his political rights for five years after he serves his time in prison, which was sought by KPK prosecutors.

Nur denied any wrongdoing and said he would "waste no time" to appeal the verdict.

"I hope the respected judge can consider that I deserve a sense of justice because I have served as a state apparatus and given my best while on duty," he added. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/29/nur-alam-gets-12-years-for-bribery-linked-to-ecological-destruction.html

Indonesia puts high hopes in new antibribery guidelines

Jakarta Post - March 27, 2018

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – The Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas) is putting high hopes in new management guidelines aimed at preventing bribery.

The implementation of the SNI ISO 37001:2016 standard is expected to boost investment in the oil and gas exploration and production.

The new system, adapted from the ISO 37001 standard introduced by the International Organization for Standardization early this year, specifies a series of measures to help organizations prevent, detect and address bribery.

"If we can eradicate bribery practices in the upstream oil and gas sector, it will be easier for businesses to make investment decisions. This, hopefully, will make investment more attractive and eventually boost investment in the sector," SKKMigas head Amien Sunaryadi said Tuesday.

Official data show that investment in the upstream oil and gas sector plunged from an annual figure of US$19.34 billion in 2013 to a mere $9.33 billion in 2017, or 75.9 percent of the target stated in last year's revised state budget.

In the 2017 corruption perception index (CPI) released by Transparency International in February, Indonesia scored only 37 of a possible 100, similar to the country's achievement in 2016, despite the government's persistent law enforcement efforts against graft.

Looking at this achievement, Transparency International board member Natalia Soebagjo said it was unrealistic for Indonesia to set a target to reach a CPI score of 45 by 2019.

"Indonesia has to review its strategy, then revise it to be effectively implemented by all stakeholders," Natalia said. (bbn) Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/27/indonesia-puts-high-hopes-in-new-antibribery-guidelines.html

Rights watchdog cautions KPK on Setya's testimony naming ministers

Jakarta Post - March 27, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – Rights advocacy group Setara Institute has said that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) must be careful in responding to defendant Setya Novanto's testimony last week that high-ranking public officials received illicit funds from the e-ID graft case.

Setara Institute chairman Hendardi pointed out that the courtroom could become a source of fake information that might cause a public uproar ahead of the 2018 regional elections and 2019 general election.

During his hearing on Thursday, former House of Representatives speaker Setya testified that illicit money from the e-ID graft case had also been distributed to Puan Maharani and Pramono Anung, two senior members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) who were House legislators when the alleged transaction took place.

Setya said the two politicians, who are currently serving as Cabinet ministers in the Joko Widodo administration, received US$500,000 each from the e-ID procurement project of 2009-2012.

"In the political years, fake news can come not only in the form of ethnic, religious, racial and societal group [SARA] content, but also material that could destroy the integrity and dignity of a person, political party or any related [groups]," said Hendardi in a press statement on Tuesday.

Testimonies on the e-ID graft case that Setya and former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin delivered in their separate corruption trials have implicated several public figures, information that the KPK could use in developing the corruption case further.

"However, misleading materials [provided] at court do not require a response, as it could cause disruption among political parties," said Hendardi. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/27/rights-watchdog-cautions-KPK-on-setyas-testimony-naming-ministers.html

Evidence mounts that Novanto's ex-lawyer engineered fake car crash and

Coconuts Jakarta - March 27, 2018

Indonesia's former house speaker, Setya Novanto, was once called "invincible" for his ability to seemingly dodge all of the numerous corruption accusations he has been hit with over his long career.

But nobody calls him invincible anymore – not since the country's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested him for his role in the massive electronic ID card (e-KTP) graft case following his highly suspicious and much memefied car accident and subsequent hospitalization in mid-November.

Now, while Novanto is tearfully testifying in his own corruption court trial over his role in the e-KTP case, which is believed to have cost the state IDR2.3 trillion (US$170 million), Novanto's former lawyer, Fredrich Yunadi, is facing a separate corruption court trial over his alleged engineering of the ex-house speaker's car accident and hospital diagnosis, alongside his co-defendant and alleged co-conspirator Dr. Bimanesh Sutarjo.

What is not in dispute is that Novanto disappeared on November 15 shortly before the KPK went to his house to arrest him. The former Golkar politicians' whereabouts were unknown until the next day when it was reported he had been involved in a car accident.

According to Fredrich, who was his lawyer at the time, Novanto had been in a car on the way to KPK headquarters to turn himself in to authorities when the driver crashed into an electrical pole on the side of the road. Novanto was then rushed to Medika Permata Hijau Hospital after allegedly sustaining severe injuries including, in Friedrich's words, a bump on his head as big as a "bakpao" (Chinese steamed bun).

Dr. Bimanesh backed up Fredrich's claims and tried to prevent KPK investigators from gaining custody of Novanto on medical grounds. However, the KPK was soon able to bring in their own independent medical examiners who confirmed that Novanto had not suffered severe injuries, allowing investigators to take custody of the politician, move him to a new medical facility and have him arrested.

Shortly after his client's arrest, Fredrich dropped out as Novanto's legal counsel. But that didn't stop the KPK from arresting Fredrich in January on charges that he obstructed justice by trying to deceive investigators regarding Novanto's health.

Since their trial began, a litany of witnesses have testified to Fredrich and Dr. Bimanesh's duplicity in the case.

Dr. Michael Chia Cahaya, who was working in the Medika Permata Hijau Hospital's emergency room the day Novanto was brought in, told the court last Friday that he had been instructed by both Fredrich and Dr. Bimanesh to fake medical records showing Novanto had suffered severe injuries even before the politician had been brought to the hospital but that he had refused to do so on ethical grounds.

"I said, if the doctor want to fire me fine, I can find other work," Michael told the court as quoted by Kompas.

In the end it was Dr. Bimanesh, who is a kidney specialist, who ended up diagnosing Novanto's car crash injuries (which obviously looked a little suspicious to investigators).

In addition to Dr. Michael's damning testimony, the hospital's attending doctor at the time, Dr. Alia, told the court that Fredrich had booked a VIP room at the hospital prior to Setya's alleged accident.

Two nurses also testified to the fact that Novanto's body was covered with a blanked when entering the hospital, which was very unusual for car accident victims. They also told the court that Novanto did not appear to have any severe injuries on his face or head, contradicting Fredrich's "bakpao" claim.

Both Dr. Bimanesh and Fredrich face up to 12 years in jail for obstructing justice.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/evidence-mounts-setya-novantos-ex-lawyer-audaciously-engineered-fake-car-crash-doctor-diagnosis/

PDIP wants KPK to focus on names in BAP of Setya Novanto trial

Tempo - March 25, 2018

M Julnis Firmansyah, Jakarta – The politicians of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Masinton Pasaribu urged the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to focus investigate witnesses and suspects noted in the investigation report (BAP) first despite the defendant Setya Novanto mentioning two new names receiving money from the e-KTP project.

"Every name mentioned (by Setya) cannot be examined directly, first, conduct further examination (on the report) to prevent bias," said Masinton when met at Warung Daun, Central Jakarta, on Saturday, March 24.

In a trial held on March 22, Setya mentioned two of PDI-P politicians to be recipients of the money embezzled from the e-KTP project, namely Puan Maharani and Pramono Anung. Setya stated both got US$500 thousand. However, the names were not written in the investigation report.

Masinton considered Setya's testimony was part of his trial drama in order to get the status of justice collaborator. He called on the public not to be fooled since the names are necessarily proven as the suspect.

Masinton cited such incident once entrapped him in the trial of defendant Miryam S. Haryani in August 2017. His name was mentioned as a person threatened Miriam not to reveal the names receiving money from the e-KTP project.

Until Miryam was convicted, Masinton was free of charges and did not prove in getting involved. "Just investigate those names in the indictment. It is not us who propose e-KTP card project," said Masinton.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/25/055916969/PDIP-Wants-KPK-to-Focus-on-Names-in-BAP-of-Setya-Novanto-Trial

Puan denies Setya's claim she received e-ID money

Jakarta Post - March 24, 2018

Jakarta – Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani has denied a claim made by graft defendant Setya Novanto that she was among the politicians taking bribe money related to the e-ID graft case.

"I have just heard about that. What he said is wrong," Puan, a senior member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the daughter of PDI-P leader Megawati Soekarnoputri, said as quoted by Kompas.com on Friday.

On Thursday, Setya told the Jakarta Corruption Court that he was told that Puan and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung received US$500,000 each from businessman Made Oka Masagung, a suspect in the e-ID graft case.

Setya said that Made Oka and another businessman, Andi Agustinus, visited his home one day to tell him that Made Oka had handed over a sum of money to several lawmakers.

"I asked [Made Oka], 'to whom?' He told me $500,000 for Puan and $500,000 for Pramono," he told the court.

Puan acknowledged that she knew Made Oka but made it clear that she never talked about the e-ID project with him or any other people involved in the case.

"I've never talked [about the e-ID procurement]. At that time, the PDI-P was in opposition, while the project was initiated by the government. There must have been [discussions] about the project at the House [of Representatives] at that time, but I never joined the talks," Puan said. (foy/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/24/puan-denies-setyas-claim-she-received-e-id-money.html

Jokowi backs graft probe into Cabinet members

Jakarta Post - March 23, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has responded to the explosive allegation that two of his Cabinet ministers took bribes in relation to the e-ID graft case, saying they should face legal proceedings if there is evidence pointing to their alleged involvement.

Jokowi made the statement following a claim made by graft defendant Setya Novanto that Puan Maharani and Pramono Anung, two senior officials of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), received money embezzled from the e-ID project.

"If there is legal evidence, legal fact, [they should] be legally processed and all [of them] should be brave to take responsibility," Jokowi told reporters on Friday, adding, "On condition that there are legal facts and strong evidence."

During a court hearing on Thursday, the former House of Representatives speaker claimed that Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung received US$500,000 each from the e-ID procurement project between 2009 and 2012, when they were House lawmakers.

The names of both Puan and Pramono did not appear on the Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) list of lawmakers who allegedly received money embezzled from the e-ID project. It has never questioned the two politicians as witnesses in the case.

PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto and Pramono have denied Setya's claims. Puan has yet to make comments on the allegation. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/23/jokowi-backs-graft-probe-into-cabinet-members.html

Golkar politician accuses Setya Novanto of giving false testimony

Tempo - March 23, 2018

Arkhelaus Wisnu Triyogo, Jakarta – Golkar Party politician Melchias Marcus Mekeng thinks that Setya Novanto gave false testimonies in the e-KTP graft trial about the existence of an Rp5 billion fund flow for the Golkar Party National Leadership meeting.

"Setya Novanto could possibly be resentful, or stressed, or maybe undecided, but I personally view that it (the testimony) was a lie said by the former House Speaker," said Mekeng on Thursday, March 22. He maintains that Setya must be accountable for his testimonies.

Defendant Setya Novanto revealed in the trial yesterday that the Golkar Party National Leadership meeting in 2016 was partly funded by the money came from the e-KTP graft valued up to Rp5 billion. "The five billion rupiah was for the meeting, it was handed to the committee," he said.

According to Setya, the money came from PT Biomorf Mauritius which was previously in the possession of his own nephew Irvanto Hendra Pambudi. The money was sent by Ahmad who acted as one of his representatives from a money changer company Inti Valuta.

Mekeng regrets that Setya Novanto's testimony seemed to be attacking Golkar. He then denied that the Golkar Party National Leadership meeting was funded by money coming from the e-KTP graft.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/23/055916934/Golkar-Politician-Accuses-Setya-Novanto-of-Giving-False-Testimony

Hard-line & vigilante groups

Gatot Nurmantyo says Rizieq Shihab knows well about Pancasila

Tempo - March 30, 2018

Arkhelaus Wisnu Triyogo, Jakarta – Former Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo recited the moment he was introduced to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader, Muhammad Rizieq Shihab.

According to Gatot, the rise of any religious conservatism in Indonesia is not an issue to worry about since he is absolutely assured that Rizieq Shihab is a person that understands the state ideology, Pancasila

"You can meet Habib Rizieq and talk about Pancasila. If necessary, try facing him with the Pancasila ideology development agency. His understanding [of Pancasila] is really that good," said Gatot during his visit to Tempo office on Tuesday, March 27.

That is the reason why the former general doubts that Rizieq yearns for a nation that is based on the Islamic sharia. Gatot asserted that the belief in one and only God contained in Pancasila has been fully understood by Muslim clerics (ulama) and students of the Pancasila's founding fathers.

Gatot Nurmantyo is widely known to be a TNI Commander that maintained close ties with ulamas. His closeness was not without any reason since it was meant to reduce the potential to spark a horizontal conflict based on ethnicity, religion, racial and societal groups (SARA).

He first met Rizieq Shihab during a humanitarian effort following the devastating Aceh earthquake and tsunami in 2004. At the time he was a staff member for the then Coordinating Minister for Peoples' Welfare Alwi Shihab.

Gatot Nurmantyo said that he witnessed Rizieq Shihab personally participating in the efforts to retrieve dead victims of the tsunami. "Rizieq Shihab did not demand anything, just several body bags. That was what I saw," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/30/055917148/Gatot-Nurmantyo-Says-Rizieq-Shihab-Knows-Well-about-Pancasila

'Arsonists' set fire to youth group's Bekasi office

Jakarta Post - March 28, 2018

Jakarta – The local branch office and a car of the Pemuda Pancasila youth organization were set on fire by unknown assailants on Wednesday in Pondok Gede, Bekasi.

Pemuda Pancasila's Bekasi branch head, Ariyes Budiman, said the incident occurred after midnight.

"Around 30 people riding 15 motorcycles arrived at the location, which intimidated two of our members who happened to be passing by," Ariyes said.

The two Pemuda Pancasila members later returned to find the office and its Daihatsu Feroza car on fire, with no sign of the individual or individuals who had started the fire, although immediate suspicion fell on the motorcycle group.

The police have yet to release an official statement on the incident.

The previous week, a group of youths claiming to be Pemuda Pancasila members assaulted an Indonesian Air Force personnel for refusing to give them nine durians. The police made a single arrest in connection with the incident.

According to Ariyes, a truce had been reached between the organization and the parties involved, but the Bekasi Police were pursuing criminal proceedings. (jlm)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/28/arsonists-set-fire-to-youth-groups-bekasi-office.html

Freedom of religion & worship

Ministry survey finds Jakarta 'more harmonious' than Yogyakarta

Jakarta Post - March 24, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – Despite the rise of sectarian sentiments simmering across the country, the Religious Affairs Ministry's nationwide survey report arrived at a conclusion: Indonesia is still a harmonious country.

The survey, done from November to December 2017, asked 7,140 respondents from 34 provinces across Indonesia about their view on living in a diverse community.

Banten and Aceh have the lowest score, with 60.7 and 60 respectively. The ministry put them in the category of "medium-level harmony", while most other provinces have high scores, with labels "harmonious" and "very harmonious".

The three provinces with the highest scores are East Nusa Tenggara (83.4), Papua (82) and North Sulawesi (81).

Despite rising sectarianism after its 2017 gubernatorial election, Jakarta achieved 12th place with 78.9, higher than Central Java with 78.7 and Yogyakarta with 72.9.

The national average stands at 72.7 in 2017, lower than 75.4 in 2016 and 75.3 in 2015.

"Jakarta has learned from the incident and they tried to be better," said Farhan Muntafa, a consultant with the ministry's Research and Development Department.

Department head for religious life Muharram Marzuki said although most provinces had high scores in tolerance and harmony, the community must be more alert in the upcoming regional elections. He also recommended more taking more care in using social media.

Islamic scholar Azyumardi Azra said the survey was good news that must be spread to the community. Some violations that happened are incidental and only happen in several places and could not be generalized, he said.

"It proves that there is no big impact of the hoaxes spread and the Jakarta gubernatorial election. We have always been a harmonious country," he said.

The ministry's survey is contradictory to other surveys done by several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as human rights group Setara Institute.

In 2017, Setara saw the divisive 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, which was plagued with the politicization of religious identities and intolerance, had resulted in increasing number of violations and religious persecutions in Jakarta, Depok and Bogor in West Java and Yogyakarta. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/23/ministry-survey-finds-jakarta-more-harmonious-than-yogyakarta.html

Politics & religion

Islamic groups call for unity amid political year

Jakarta Post - March 25, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – Two of the biggest Islamic groups in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, have pledged to ensure unity in the world's largest Muslim democracy during "the year of politics" and the era of "rampant hoax.

In a joint statement issued on Friday, NU and Muhammadiyah said they were committed to "strengthening the consensus of the founding fathers" that the state ideology of Pancasila and the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia "are the final forms" for the country.

"Indonesia is a country that has diversity in terms of ethnic groups and religions that must be protected," read the statement, published on NU's website, nu.or.id.

"Differences must be seen as a blessing to support harmony," the two organizations said.

The two groups specifically highlighted two challenges that face democracy in Indonesia: 2018 as a year of politics and the rampant spread of hoaxes and hate speech.

The term year of politics refers to the upcoming simultaneous regional elections in 119 regions across Indonesia and the intensified efforts by the country's parties to consolidate their positions before the presidential and legislative elections slated for next year.

"Let's make democracy a part of our life, as a nation, to create substantial changes," said the NU and Muhammadiyah.

Amid what they dubbed the era of social media, the NU and Muhammadiyah called on their members to "build a conducive climate" because the rampant spread of hoaxes, hate speech and slander could potentially "disturb the unity of the nation". (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/25/islamic-groups-call-for-unity-amid-political-year.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Depok residents block road in protest against apartment construction

Jakarta Post – March 31, 2018

Depok – Residents of Beji Timur, Depok, blocked Jl. Taufiqurrahman on Saturday in protest against the development of an apartment building, which they had initially been informed would be a boarding house, developed by PT SCC Investment Corp.

"PT SCC has committed many violations, that's why the residents affected [by the violations] are taking this firm measure," said one of the residents Fatia.

It all started in January 2017, when the developer began development of a project they called Apartkos Avicenna.

It is reported that the developer kicked off the construction after only obtaining the Land Use Permit (IPR), and without the Building Construction Permit (IMB).

Residents were told that the company was building a boarding house and needed approval from the residents.

Head of Neighborhood Unit (RT) 05, Community Unit (RW) 02, Beji Timur Ahmad Daujat, said he complied with the developer's request to collect signatures from the residents in a show of support for the boarding house development project.

"They required 10 signatures, but only four were willing to sign," said Daujat as quoted by tempo.co. They later learned that the developer was not building a boarding house but an apartment building instead.

Upon finding out this information, they withdrew the petition of approval and sent a letter of admonishment as well as a legal notice to the Depok Mayor on May 9 and Sept. 15, 2017.

According to the head of Depok's Public Order Agency, Yayan Arianto, they had sent an initial warning letter to the developer a few days ago. (iwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/31/depok-residents-block-road-in-protest-against-apartment-construction.html

Walhi reveals 82 percent of land controlled by corporations

Tempo - March 23, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta – Environmental group Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) revealed that 82 percent of Indonesia's land spaces are controlled by big corporations.

"The current domination by corporations is 82 percent, which is acquired by concessions and permits in the sector of forestry, plantations, and mining," said Walhi Executive Director Yaya Nur Hidayati on Thursday, March 22.

According to Walhi's records, the land spaces acquired by corporations in the sector of forestry amounts to 31.7 million hectares and 11.1 million hectares of land space for business use. Meanwhile, 32.7 million hectares are controlled by mining corporations and 83.5 million hectares used for mining in the oil and gas industry.

Related to Amien Rais' previous statement deeming President Jokowi's land certificate program as a way to dupe the people, Yaya said the government indeed has accommodated the people by handing them land certificates but that has yet addressed the disparity of land domination.

Yaya suggested that the government should evaluate and each permit and concession for land and forest area throughout the country.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/23/055916921/Walhi-Reveals-82-Percent-of-Land-Controlled-by-Corporations

Parliament & legislation

MPR inaugurates three new speakers despite criticism

Jakarta Post - March 26, 2018

Jakarta – The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) inaugurated on Monday three new speakers and deputy chairmen amid criticism that more speakers did not mean improved performance.

The new MPR's deputy chairmen are: National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI- P) deputy secretary-general Ahmad Basarah and Gerindra secretary-general Ahmad Muzani.

MPR speaker Zulkifli Hasan said the decision was urgent to have stability in the political year, referring to the upcoming regional elections in June and 2019 presidential and legislative elections.

"I expect the three new deputies will improve the MPR's performance, which has been tainted in the public eye," he told legislative members and top country officials at the inauguration event on Monday.

Under the new Legislative Institutions (MD3) Law, going into effect on March 14, the House of Representatives should have six speakers (one chairman and five deputies) and the MPR eight leaders until 2019. Previously, each body only had five speakers.

New speaker Basarah said to the press after the inauguration he would work to promote the four pillars of MPR: Pancasila (Indonesia's founding five-point ideology), the 1945 Constitution, the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) and the state motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).

He said the new leadership would ease the plan to reinstate the now-defunct state policy guideline known as the GBHN.

Previously, Lucius Karus, a senior researcher at the Indonesian Parliament Watch (Formappi), also criticized the additional speakers, saying adding more leaders wouldn't necessarily improve their performance. "Just take a look at the previous composition; what were their achievements?" he said on Sunday. (srs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/26/mpr-inaugurates-three-new-speakers-despite-criticism.html

Jakarta & urban life

Two more entertainment venues to be shut down after Alexis

Jakarta Post - March 30, 2018

Jakarta – After shuttering the Alexis hotel and entertainment center in Ancol, North Jakarta, the Jakarta administration plans to close down two more entertainment businesses found to be violating Gubernatorial Decree No. 18/2018 on the operation of tourism enterprises.

The plan was revealed by Jakarta Public Order Agency head Yani Wahyu Purwoko at City Hall after dispatching 30 female personnel on Thursday to make sure that Alexis had been closed, as instructed by Governor Anies Baswedan on March 23.

"I have received a recommendation letter from Jakarta Tourism Agency to close two entertainment venues, one massage parlor and one nightclub, in West Jakarta," Yani said as quoted by tribunnews.com, while declining to elaborate.

According to the new decree about the operation of tourism enterprises, the Jakarta administration can shut down any businesses proven to accommodate drug trafficking or use, human trafficking and prostitution, as well as gambling. The administration does not have to provide a warning to the business owners. (vny)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/30/two-more-entertainment-venues-to-be-shut-down-after-alexis.html

Former Alexis workers none of our business: Anies

Jakarta Post - March 28, 2018

Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Wednesday that the city administration would not accommodate the needs of Alexis Hotel workers who lost their jobs after the city revoked the hotel's business permit.

Anies asked the former employees to not play victim. "Don't act as if the hotel closure has caused them to suffer and they're the victims of the closure. Everybody that worked there realized that there were violations committed by the business, which means they were all committing the violations together," he said as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com on Wednesday.

"If they're really thinking about how they will live their lives, they should have considered that before working at a problematic company," the former education and culture minister added.

The city administration has officially revoked PT Grand Hotel Ancol's business license on March 22 on accusations of prostitution. The company operated Alexis Hotel along with several of its other business units, like 4Play Club and Bar Lounge, restaurant, spa, karaoke and music lounge.

Alexis Hotel declared the closure their business on Wednesday, the deadline of the closure set by the administration. (vla)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/28/former-alexis-workers-none-of-our-business-anies.html

Infamous Alexis Hotel closes permanently after Governor Anies' stern

Coconuts Jakarta - March 28, 2018

Well, it looks like Governor Anies Baswedan finally fulfilled his campaign promise: barring further legal drama, Jakarta's infamous Alexis Hotel – long rumored to be the capital's most luxurious brothel – has reportedly closed its doors for good after receiving an ultimatum from the Jakarta Provincial Government.

Yesterday, Anies announced that he had revoked Alexis' Tourism Business Certificate (TDUP) last Friday and gave the establishment five days to pack up and leave permanently or they would face stern sanctions. Anies said Alexis was being shut down for facilitating prostitution, based on media reports and the government's own investigation.

"Not narcotics, we did not see those, but prostitution. We found human trafficking," Anies told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Detik.

Anies' five-day deadline ends today, and this morning a huge white banner was put up in front of Alexis confirming it had shut down and conveying an apology from the hotel's management.

"We apologize to the public who were disturbed by the rowdy news reports [about Alexis] these past few months," the banner reads.

"To avoid a lengthy polemic about the activities in our venues, with this we have decided, starting Wednesday March 28, 2018, we are ceasing all activities and operations on Jalan RE Martadinata no. 1."

Alexis' shut down will likely be seen as a major victory for Governor Anies, who in his election campaign promised to shut down the infamous hotel, which has become a key part of his larger moral crusade against the widespread practice of prostitution and drug dealing in Jakarta. Soon after he took office in October, Anies seemingly shut down Alexis, but it turned out he had only refused to renew the business licenses for a couple of the hotel's venues.

After an expose by Tempo, published in January, alleged that prostitution was still being practiced at Alexis, Anies passed a Gubernatorial Decree (Pergub) which simplifies the process by which the government can shut down entertainment on the basis of prostitution and/or narcotics as it makes even media reports or complaints from the public eligible to be used as sufficient evidence to justify the venue's shutdown. The Pergub also guarantees that those who were shut down cannot reopen under different auspices at the same location.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/infamous-alexis-hotel-closes-permanently-governor-anies-stern-ultimatum/

Anies should concentrate on job as governor, says Kalla

Jakarta Post - March 25, 2018

Jakarta – Vice President Jusuf Kalla said it was not impossible for Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to contest the 2019 presidential election, but it would be better if he focused on his job at the moment.

Kalla and Anies were spotted together on a morning jog from the National Monument (Monas) to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, along with South Sulawesi Family Association members.

"Everything is possible, but now [Anies should] concentrate on his job as Jakarta governor," Kalla told the media on Sunday, as quoted by kompas.com.

When asked whether he would recommend Anies as a vice presidential candidate, Kalla said that was not his job. "The parties will recommend it. They propose it. Not me," he added.

Kalla also declined to comment on whether he would be President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's running mate for the second time. "This is not the right time to talk about it. There is still a long way to go," he said. (hol/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/25/anies-should-concentrate-on-job-as-governor-says-kalla.html

Jakarta saves Rp 249 million during Earth Hour campaign

Jakarta Post - March 25, 2018

Jakarta – Jakarta managed to save Rp 249 million (US$18,069) during Earth Hour on Saturday night, with electricity consumption being reduced by 169.9 megawatts during the one-hour annual global demonstration in support of action against climate change.

This year's campaign saw a reduction in energy consumption compared to last year when 157 MW were saved, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan claimed, adding that carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by 122 tons this year, higher than the 112.69 recorded the previous year.

"Hopefully, we'll have bigger awareness in the future, not only during the one-hour campaign, but also in our daily activities," Anies said at City Hall on Saturday night, as quoted by kompas.com.

He went on to invite residents to reduce electricity consumption given that the source was limited.

Prior to the campaign, the administration issued a gubernatorial instruction ordering government offices in the city, up to subdistrict level, to dim their lights for an hour starting from 8:30 p.m. The lights at some of the city's most iconic places, such as the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta and the Semanggi overpass in South Jakarta, were also turned off. (fac/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/25/jakarta-saves-rp-249-million-during-earth-hour-campaign.html

Public Order Agency cancels plan to close infamous Alexis after internal

Coconuts Jakarta - March 23, 2018

Yesterday, an internal memo from Jakarta's Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) to the Jakarta Provincial Government detailing their plan to deploy 325 personnel to shut down Alexis Hotel – long rumored to be Jakarta's most luxurious brothel – was leaked to the public before the agency decided not to carry out the raid.

Armed with a new Gubernatorial Decree (Pergub) recently issued by Governor Anies Baswedan, authorities can now instantly shut down entertainment spots believed to be facilitating prostitution and/or narcotics based on their own field findings, as well as media reports or even citizen complaints, without further investigation.

As detailed in the leaked memo, the Satpol PP was seemingly set to shut down Alexis for good, likely based on a recent expose by Tempo indicating that the establishment was still facilitating prostitution in its still operational club and karaoke venues. But the raid on Alexis, which was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, was never carried out.

The provincial government says it's investigating who caused the leak and has downplayed speculations it derailed plans for the raid on Alexis, with Anies insisting that he will take charge when the provincial government eventually orders the it's complete closure.

"I said it's not necessary to deploy that many [personnel]. Shutting down [establishments] must be carried out in steps," Anies said yesterday, as quoted by Tempo. "If there are up to 325 personnel, what are they for? It's like we're going to war."

Anies insisted that Alexis and all of its venues will be shut down in the near future, as well as other hotbeds of vice in the city.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/public-order-agency-cancels-plan-close-infamous-alexis-internal-memo-leak/

'Entertainment business regulation aims to fufill Anies' campaign

Jakarta Post - March 23, 2018

Jakarta – An entertainment entrepreneurs association has slammed a gubernatorial regulation that simplifies the process of shutting down entertainment establishments, as it claims the regulation disadvantages businesses.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan issued on March 12 Decree No. 18/2018 on tourist businesses, which simplifies the process of shutting down entertainment spots where violations of the law occur based on field monitoring and mass media and public reports.

The revocation of business permits may be conducted directly without the issuance of warning letters.

"We feel cornered by this regulation. The administration should investigate claims first, not just clamp down without checking them out," Jakarta Entertainment Entrepreneurs Association chairman Erick Halauwet said on Thursday.

Erick also questioned the mass media reports the administration could use as grounds for shutting down businesses.

"If media report the wrong facts, the entrepreneurs will be the targets. We can tolerate reputable print media that can take responsibility, but it gets harder with disreputable ones," said Erick as quoted by kompas.com, noting that hoaxes and fake news could endanger businesses as well.

Erick opined that the regulation was swiftly passed to shut down Alexis Hotel and massage parlor in North Jakarta. "Anies produced the regulation to fulfill his campaign promise [to shut down Alexis], he added.

On Thursday, a photo of an official letter ordering the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) to seal Alexis was leaked to the media, with Satpol PP deputy chief Hidayatullah saying that officers were on stand by in the Ancol district office since 11 a.m.

After the leak, Anies said the incident was an example of the lack of discipline in the organization, noting that he would reprimand Hidayatullah.

Separately, a journalist for a news platform said Naufal Firman Yursak, a member of the Governors Team for Development Acceleration (TGUPP), had called members of the media, asking for the source of the leak.

The journalist refused to hand over the recording to protect the sources, kompas.com reported. (jlm)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/23/entertainment-business-regulation-aims-to-fufill-anies-campaign-promises-association.html

Transport & communication

15 cents per km: Indonesian gig-economy drivers fed up with low wages

Sydney Morning Herald - March 31, 2018

James Massola – From the downfall of former president Suharto, nigh on 20 years ago, when students took to the streets en masse to the more recent protests against former governor Ahok – a lazy 200,000 converged on central Jakarta for one rally in December 2016 – Indonesians aren't afraid to make themselves heard.

And so, last Tuesday, thousands of ojek (the Bahasa word for motor cycle taxi) drivers swarmed to the Jalan Meda Merdeka Barat, across the road from the Presidential palace, to voice their concern about pay and conditions.

The riders worked mostly for GoJek, a local start-up that has grown exponentially in the last three years.

Some also worked for global ride-sharing giant Uber or the Singapore-based Grab, which just this week acquired Uber's south-east Asian operations. It wasn't their first protest.

The protest itself follows a pattern that has been repeated the world over, as first taxi drivers have criticised ride-sharing apps for under-cutting them on price, and then the ride-sharing drivers themselves have protested about their own pay and conditions.

But it's hard to overstate the phenomenon that is GoJek. A month ago, the firm raised $US1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) in capital so it could expand.

Investors include Google and Chinese tech firm Tencent Holdings. Eight years ago the company did not exist. But on the streets of Jakarta, and indeed all over Indonesia, the green-jacketed riders are near ubiquitous.

GoJek isn't just a motorcycle-based ride-sharing service that facilitates quick passage through Jakarta's stifling traffic. It doesn't just do personal transport.

Its riders deliver everything from hamburgers to hairdressers. It's common to see boxes stacked precariously high behind their drivers, heaving this way and that as they zoom in and out of traffic.

The firm is now also investing heavily in a mobile payments platform – another potentially lucrative play for the company.

But the riders are paid a pittance – about 1600 rupiah (15 cents) per kilometre, according to the Jakarta Post. By way of comparison, in Jakarta, the annual monthly minimum wage is set at about 3.6 million rupiah ($340).

So it was that your correspondent, attempting to steal an hour at lunch (a visiting Papa Massola in tow) to check out the Museum Nasional Indonesia, and walked into the middle of the protest.

The museum, of course, was shut. The guard at the gate gesturing at the mass of people milling around. So as we wended our way back to my office, passing the thousands of riders, we stopped for a chat.

As I pulled out my notepad and tried to explain in awful Bahasa who I was and why I wanted to ask some questions, Yusuf, a GoJek driver, was thrust forward by his mates to speak to me. Yusuf, and his friends, were all smiles as they answered my questions.

"We are protesting price of GoJek, it is too low," he said. "Same price for all three [ride sharing services], we hope the government does."

How many hours a day did Yusuf work, and how long had he been driving a GoJek? "Have been driving for four years. Work ten hours a day, every day. I hope the government listens to us, Mr Jokowi."

And then it was time for a photo of Yusuf. His friends, of course, had other ideas and our five minute interview turned into a 20-minute group photo call and a never-ending series of selfies with two sweaty foreigners.

In fact, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo – a leader with a deft touch and a populist bent – met with drivers' representatives on Tuesday and promised mediation over the dispute. Grab promised a couple of days later it would look to raise wages.

GoJek, a company valued at $US5 billion, can surely afford to do the same. The next protest might not be so amiable.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/15-cents-per-km-indonesian-gig-economy-drivers-fed-up-with-low-wages-20180330-p4z75c.html

Online taxi drivers stage protest rally at State Palace

Tempo - March 28, 2018

Andita Rahma, Jakarta – A group of online taxi drivers dubbing themselves as the National Alliance of Online Drivers [Aliando] staged a protest rally to the State Palace on Wednesday, March 28, 2018.

The online taxi drivers were protesting the Transportation Minister's Regulation No. 108 Year 2017 on Online Taxi. "We are strongly against the Transportation Minister's Regulation No. 108," said Max, the coordinator of Aliando for West Java chapter.

Max claimed the regulation had saddled online taxi drivers, thus should not have been adopted. He took for example the requirement of public transport drivers' licenses [SIM A], roadworthy tests [KIR], and area limits for online taxi services.

"Can you imagine? Our cars are private cars. If we take the KIR testing we can lose our insurance," he said.

The online drivers planned to rally from the IRTI field at the National Monument to the State Palace with estimated participants reaching 5,000 people.

"There are 50 cars from Bandung and another 30 from Karawang and Cikampek. We are still waiting for our friends to join us here," he said.

Max hoped the online taxi drivers could meet with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to voice their complaints. "The bottom line is we are strongly against the Transportation Minister's Regulation No. 108 because it is detrimental to us," he enthused.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/03/28/055917093/Online-Taxi-Drivers-Stage-Protest-Rally-at-State-Palace

Ride-hailing app motorcycle drivers protest low fares

Jakarta Post - March 27, 2018

Jakarta – Thousands of motorcycle taxi drivers protested on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta on Tuesday to demand that the government help them get higher pay from the ride-hailing services they work with.

The drivers conveyed disappointment over what they call low fares paid by customers, which translates into low income for them. "We want the companies to increase the fares, which have been inhumane lately," Adi, one of the protesters, told kompas.com.

The drivers, who reportedly did not only come from the Jakarta area but also from Tangerang, Bekasi and Bogor, were rallying from Jl. MH Thamrin to the Presidential Palace.

The rally caused traffic congestion on Jl. MH Thamrin. The Jakarta Police diverted traffic in the area because of the protest.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said thousands of personnel had been deployed to secure the protest. Argo added that representatives of the drivers would be allowed to convey their aspirations to the Presidential Palace. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/27/ride-hailing-app-motorcycle-drivers-protest-low-fares.html

Ride-hailing apps run Indonesian tuk-tuks off road

Agence France Presse - March 25, 2018

Auto-rickshaw driver Zainuddin used to make decent money navigating Jakarta's congested roads and narrow alleyways.

But now US-based Uber, Google-backed Go-Jek and Singapore's Grab are locked in a race for ride-hailing app supremacy in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, denting the fortunes of traditional three-wheeled bajaj taxis that once ruled Indonesia's roads.

"Our income has fallen between 70 and 80 percent since ride-hailing apps came on the scene," said Zainuddin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

There were some 14,000 bajaj on Indonesia's roads by 2015, according to the latest official figures. By contrast, Go-Jek alone claims 900,000 drivers and some 15 million weekly active users. It launched in 2010.

Google and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek have announced investments in Go-Jek, which has been valued at as much as $5 billion although it's little known outside Asia.

Southeast Asia's ride-hailing market more than doubled in two years to some $5 billion in 2017 and it's expected to reach $20 billion by 2025, with Indonesia set to account for some 40 percent of it, according to research done by Google and Temasek.

Go-Jek, which also reportedly won funding from Chinese internet giant Tencent, has said it is mulling an initial public offering as it looks to grow in Indonesia and beyond.

That could inflate its army of motorcycle taxis, private cars and other services – from massage and house cleaning to grocery shopping and package deliveries – all available at users' fingertips.

Dragging behind its regional rivals, Uber is reportedly selling parts of its Southeast Asian operations to rival Grab in exchange for a stake in the Singaporean company.

No more haggling

The ride-hailing trio offer fixed-price rides that take haggling out of the equation, a welcome change for former bajaj customer Tetty Iskandar.

"I haven't taken a bajaj in years," said the 35-year-old housewife, who used to ride the three-wheelers to go grocery shopping.

"You had to bargain with the drivers to get cheap fares. And you would already have done bargaining a lot in the market. Sometimes I felt so tired and just wanted to get home."

The vast archipelago of some 260 million people has a relatively low per-capita car ownership rate.

And vehicle owners often choose to leave their ride at home, opting instead for a fixed-price motorcycle that can zip through Jakarta's epic traffic congestion – at a bargain-basement prices.

That is threatening bajaj – not to mention regular cabs and ubiquitous motorbike taxis known as ojek – which arrived in Indonesia during the 1970s.

The motorised rickshaw quickly made inroads under its namesake company, which hailed from India. The name bajaj is now inked into Jakarta's lexicon after supplanting traditional bicycle taxis.

A distinctive blue model of the vehicle is still a common sight and while pollution-spewing older models are outlawed, some still ply the narrow alleyways of Indonesia's sprawling capital.

Government efforts to reduce traffic snarls by reintroducing bicycle taxis could further chip away at the market share of bajaj, which cannot operate on highways and certain busy streets.

'Nostalgic feeling'

Still, bajaj backers point out that the little tuk-tuks are safer than motorcycles which have higher injury and fatality rates.

"They are still a very useful means of transport when you have to go through small alleys and roads in Jakarta," said Danang Parikesit, president of the think tank Indonesia Transportation Society.

For some, sitting in a tuk-tuk as it teeters and rumbles over Jakarta's roads offers a connection to an older way of life. "Riding bajaj has a unique sensation, a nostalgic feeling," said faithful customer Budiyanto.

In central Jakarta, bajaj line a curb, their drivers smoking or sleeping as swarms of motorbike drivers sporting Go-Jek or Grab windbreakers zip by on their way to collect customers.

Even if they wanted to switch to ride-hailing apps, it's too late for some older drivers. "I cannot shift to an app-based motorcycle taxi because of my age," said driver Sutardi. "Companies require that their drivers not be over 60."

Despite the threat of technology, some insist bajaj have a future, especially among customers who don't want to get soaked on the back of a motorbike or while waiting for a hired car during the months-long rainy season.

"Customers don't like to get wet," tuk-tuk driver Zainuddin said. "It's not good for people when the rain comes, but bajaj drivers will be happy."

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/ride-hailing-apps-run-indonesian-tuk-tuks-off-road/

Criminal justice & legal system

Indonesia criminal code overhaul a step backwards for drug policy

Al Jezeera - March 30, 2018

Alfina Qisthi & Claudia Stoicescu – As more countries move away from drug prohibition, Indonesia is about to step up its efforts to defend it.

Proposed revisions to the country's criminal code promote harsh penalties for the use and possession of narcotics – including society's ultimate sanction, the death penalty – instead of a health-oriented approach. Rather than enabling a safer, healthier future for the world's fourth largest population, the changes guarantee a surge in prison overcrowding, inflated public health costs, decreased access to health care, and increased drug trafficking, availability, and misuse.

The current criminal code (KUHP) is nearly identical to the penal code issued by the Dutch colonial authorities in 1918, which was retained when Indonesia gained independence in 1945. Its long-overdue revamp, which is in the final stages of deliberation in the House of Representatives, contains a new set of alarming provisions, including some that criminalise homosexuality, extramarital sex, and criticism of the president.

The latest draft revisions have been widely condemned by rights organisations. The United Nations human rights chief deemed the proposed amendments "inherently discriminatory", arguing that their sanctions fall disproportionately on the most marginalised segments of society. Last month, activists from the so-called Civil Society Alliance to Reject the Draft Criminal Code organised several protests rejecting the parliament's proposals. Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights warned against the rushed adoption of the current criminal code revisions, calling for more input from the public.

Yet while the media and public have focused on the wider set of KUHP amendments, the inclusion of strict penalties for non-violent drug users has nearly slipped in unnoticed. The draft bill contains 22 articles on the use, possession, couriering, and smuggling of narcotics, all of which are treated as criminal offenses punishable with jail time, or in severe cases, death by firing squad.

A selective copy and paste job

Stiff repercussions for the use and supply of drugs are not a new development in this Muslim-majority, archipelago nation. Indonesia was rendered infamous by its harrowing execution of 14 prisoners in 2015, and more recently, by encouraging on-the-spot shootings of suspected drug dealers without due process.

Drug use and supply have been strictly regulated in Indonesia since 1976 (law no. 9), with subsequent amendments introduced in 2009 (law no. 35). The nation's current drug policy incarnation – which akin to the criminal code, is coincidentally under government review – endorses jail time and civil rights sanctions for those caught using psychotropic substances.

Despite favouring a punitive slant, 2009 amendments to the drug law are tempered by provisions aimed at steering drug users away from the criminal justice system and into rehabilitation. For instance, in cases involving drug use the law provides judges with wide discretion to impose drug treatment as an alternative to imprisonment. Despite ongoing challenges in terms of implementation, the formal recognition of substance use as a complex medical issue requiring health measures offers a lifeline to millions of drug users.

The draft version of the Criminal Code that we consulted (from February 2, 2018) reproduces the provisions on the punishment of drug use from Indonesia's current drug law nearly verbatim, but excludes others focused on health.

One of the most problematic proposals is the lack of distinction between those who use drugs recreationally with those who traffic drugs. In what is arguably one of the broadest, most elusive provisions, draft article 701 lumps together the "ownership, possession, storage, purchase, or cultivation of narcotics, even in cases where the narcotics are for their own use." In this way, the revised criminal code blanket criminalizes vastly different infractions, while failing to recognize drug dependence as a health concern.

Criminalisation of drug use produces added harms

After decades of fighting a brutal war on drugs, the Indonesian government has not been able to offer any convincing evidence that prison time, brutal crackdowns, or executions have curbed drug crime and reduced recreational use.

Counter to the government's claims that the death penalty has a deterrent effect, in practice drug crimes in Indonesia increased in the months after the 2015 executions. At the same time, law enforcement-heavy crackdowns have had no documented effect on drug use rates. Levels of illicit drug consumption in Indonesia have remained relatively stable since the early 2000s, and are much lower than rates found in the United States and many countries in Europe.

The uneven implementation of Indonesia's current drug law means that many drug users, especially those who cannot afford to pay bribes, continue to be thrown in jail. According to the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Indonesian prisons are up to 273 percent over capacity, with drugs being the chief reason people end up in prison. As of February 2018, 84 percent of all prisoners across the archipelago, amounting to 82,467 men and women, were incarcerated on narcotics-related offences. Among prisoners held on narcotics-related charges, 32 percent were non-violent drug users.

Evidence from several countries with harsh approaches shows that criminalisation results in a domino effect of public health problems, too. Penalisation of drug use increases societal stigma and discrimination against recreational drug users, which can drive them away from seeking health care and fuel HIV and AIDS epidemics. Should the proposed criminal code bill become law next month, the outcomes will be more of the same.

Shedding colonial legacies?

Rather than doing away with remnants of Dutch colonial legacy, rights lawyers argue that the proposed codification of a strictly punitive approach to drugs in the criminal code is far more regressive than its colonial predecessor.

The Netherlands – a country with a relatively permissive approach to drugs – has managed to maintain stable cannabis rates among youth, low rates of HIV among hard drug users, and low levels of drug crime. These health and social benefits were achieved not with the heavy fist of law enforcement, but with pragmatic policies that placed narcotics interventions in the hands of public health authorities.

Faced with explosive heroin-fueled HIV epidemics in the 1980s and a failing, costly war on drugs in many of its European neighbours, the Netherlands adopted a set of policies now known as the "Dutch model". These included substantial investments in comprehensive health and social services like needle syringe programs and safe consumptions rooms where users could access clean drug injection equipment and seek counselling and treatment. These measures are credited with sparing the Netherlands many of the public health and criminal justice system costs incurred by countries with tougher approaches. By comparison, Indonesia's proposed RKUHP changes – which introduce new forms of discrimination focused solely on crime and punishment – would send the country backwards several decades.

Legal advocates have argued that narcotics should remain within the scope of the current drug law. Although in the eyes of many it is far from just, it retains the possibility of improvement. As a "living" document responsive to societal changes, the existing drug law is dynamic and amenable to reform. By contrast, the formal legal processes involved in amending the criminal code are cumbersome, inflexible, and lengthy. Discussions on the revisions started in the 1960s. It has taken until 2018 for criminal code revision to become a legislative priority.

At a time when much of the world is starting to understand the disastrous effects of prohibition, Indonesia should learn from its own drug war history, and move forward rather than backwards. There may not be another chance for reform for another 50 years.

[The views expressed in this article are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.]

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/indonesia-criminal-code-overhaul-step-drug-policy-180329112407968.html

Arief Hidayat inaugurated as Constitutional Court judge despite

Jakarta Post - March 27, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo inaugurated on Tuesday Arief Hidayat as the Constitutional Court chief justice for his second and final term despite mounting public calls for the justice to step down from his post.

Elected by the House of Representatives, Arief will serve in the post for the next five years. He has already served at the court for five years since 2013.

The 62-year-old justice was elected as the Court chief justice, replacing Hamdan Zoelva, in 2015. Arief was re-elected to serve his second term as chief justice in July 2017.

During his first term on the nine-panel bench, Arief drew criticism for violating justice ethics twice – in 2016 and last year. He was given light sanctions in both cases.

The recent ethics violation case arose when Arief allegedly committed political lobbying with several members of the House's Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, related to Arief's attempt to extend his position as a court justice.

The court's ethics council found Arief guilty of ethics breaches for attending a meeting at a hotel with House members without any official invitation. However, the council found no evidence of the alleged backroom deal.

Anticorruption activists and legal experts subsequently called for Arief to resign from his post, on the grounds that the justice had tainted the court's legitimacy and reputation. More than 70 professors and academics have signed a protest letter against Arief and delivered it to the court. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/27/arief-hidayat-inaugurated-as-constitutional-court-judge-despite-criticism.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Brace for widening trade deficit, Economists say

Jakarta Post - March 26, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia should anticipate a further increase in its trade deficit with the rest of the world, economists have said.

Economists with private lender Bank Danaman led by Anton Hendranata said the deficit could widen amid inward-oriented trade policies following the plan of the United States to impose tariffs on the import of steel and aluminum.

"The impact from US tariffs on steel and aluminum may be minimal, but we may suffer a larger blow on CPO (crude palm oil) exports, as European countries continue to ban palm oil from Southeast Asia," the economists said in a statement received by The Jakarta Post on Monday.

They recommended that the Indonesian government seek new export destinations to diversify its trade away from traditional markets.

According to Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data, Indonesia booked a US$116 million trade deficit in February, bringing the deficit for the past 12 months to $872 million, after Indonesia had enjoyed trade surpluses in the last three years. The country recorded a trade deficit of $760 million in January and $220 million in December 2017.

Regarding market pressure on the rupiah, the economists said situation might improve due to the tone of the meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in the US, which preferred to stay on a gradual track of tightening at the pace of three rate hikes this year.

"Nonetheless, the rising wave of protectionism and the impact of US fiscal policies may still be a source of volatility in the financial market," they said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/26/brace-for-widening-trade-deficit-economists-say.html

Indonesia's protectionist shipping rule worries coal importers

Nikkei Asian Review - March 26, 2018

Tokyo – Indonesia's decision to mandate the use of domestic shipping companies handling the country's key export commodities of coal and palm oil has drawn criticism, as well as a warning that it will drive up freight costs and hurt the country's economy in the end.

Indonesia is the world's top exporter of thermal coal, a type of coal used widely for power generation. Japan sourced 32.07 million tons, or 17% of its coal imports, from the Southeast Asian country last year.

It now seems that the regulation will be delayed and not take effect in late April as planned. Nevertheless, strict enforcement would have a substantial impact on Japanese shipping companies.

"If we tolerate this regulation, other countries may make similar moves," an official at the Japanese Shipowners' Association said.

Japan's Transport Ministry has urged Jakarta to scrap the regulation on grounds that it is in violation of World Trade Organization rules, as well as the bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries. But the Indonesian government has so far ignored Japan's plea.

In reality, Indonesia's shipping industry, made up of small-scale operators, is in no way capable of moving all cargo, an executive at a major Japanese ocean freight company said.

This means that Indonesian shippers will need to tap foreign freighters' resources by leasing vessels or subcontracting cargo transportation.

The addition of another layer to shipping operations is certain to increase costs. "We will closely monitor the development, since it would affect procurement prices in no small way," said Jera, a Japanese fuel importer affiliated with power companies.

Meanwhile, one Japanese shipping industry insider has a warning for the Indonesian government. "If transportation costs climb, Indonesian coal will become less competitive in term of pricing," he noted.

"That would drive buyers toward other supply sources, such as Australia, and Indonesia will ultimately suffer as exports decline."

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Indonesia-s-protectionist-shipping-rule-worries-coal-importers

Indonesian ambassador strikes back at NZ columnist's allegations of

Jakarta Post - March 26, 2018

Tama Salim, Jakarta – Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand Tantowi Yahya has dismissed allegations that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had acted disrespectfully toward Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern by declining to speak in public during last week's state visit to the country.

His statement was a response to a commentary in The New Zealand Herald by columnist Audrey Young, who painted Jokowi's visit as "shameful" because the President reportedly "failed to present himself in some manner to the public of New Zealand".

In the written statement sent to The Jakarta Post on Monday, Tantowi said the decision for the two leaders not to hold a joint press conference was, in fact, proposed by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and adopted unanimously. Young claimed in her column that the MFAT proposed a joint conference, but "the Indonesians declined".

Tantowi said the two sides had agreed to publish a joint statement that reflected the results of the leaders' talks on their respective online portals.

"As guests, we respect the position taken by our host. We fully supported [the proposal], as there was nothing wrong with it," Tantowi siad. "We were very satisfied with the level of service and attention, as well as the warm welcome that the government of New Zealand has afforded us."

President Jokowi's visit to New Zealand on March 18-19 was the first by an Indonesian leader in 13 years, and marked 60 years of diplomatic relations. The two nations agreed to upgrade their ties to a comprehensive partnership, and committed to increasing two-way trade to NZ$4 billion (US$2.9 billion) by 2024.

The success of the visit, Tantowi said, was a testament to the hard work and thorough preparations that both sides expended.

However, the backlash arising from Young's comments on President Jokowi prompted the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington to protest strongly and demand clarification over the report, which the ambassador lambasted as "baseless" and a "distortion of the truth".

The commentary claims that the President reportedly declined to meet with the press and to give a statement following bilateral talks with Prime Minister Ardern on March 19.

"The author took this as a sign of disrespect on the part of President Jokowi; that's a very pretentious thing to say," said Tantowi.

"As president of the third largest democracy in the world, Joko Widodo upholds freedom of expression and independence of the press," the statement said. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/26/indonesian-ambassador-strikes-back-at-nz-columnists-allegations-of-disrespect.html

Mining & energy

Only three provinces complete regional energy plans

Jakarta Post - March 28, 2018

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – The government is still struggling to complete the formulation of regional energy plans for all regions across the country, with only three out of 34 provinces having finished their draft works as of today.

On March 2, the government introduced the General Planning for National Energy (RUEN) – which identifies Indonesia's long-term energy management – to boost the renewable energy portion in the national energy mix from a mere 7.7 percent in 2016 to 23 percent by 2025.

Initially, the government set a target for each of Indonesia's 34 provinces to complete the formulation of their respective General Planning for Regional Energy (RUED) by March 2 or a year after the introduction of the RUEN.

However, National Energy Board member Pudji Untoro said only three provinces had now completed their RUED draft, while three others have started formulating theirs.

"Three provinces that have completed their draft and are just waiting for it to be added to the Raperda [draft bylaws] are Central Java, Jakarta and West Nusa Tenggara. Meanwhile, the other three that are still formulating their draft are Bengkulu, North Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara," Pudji said on Tuesday. "We aim to see the completion of all provincial RUED by early June."

RUEN envisions that, to meet the 23 percent target by 2025, the government will have to develop, among other things, renewable power plants with a combined capacity of 45.2 gigawatts. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/28/only-three-provinces-complete-regional-energy-plans.html

Indonesia's proven oil reserves to last just 12 years: Arcandra

Jakarta Post - March 27, 2018

Jakarta – Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arcandra Tahar has said that Indonesia needs to intensify exploration for new oil fields, because the country's proven oil reserves will only support about 12 years of exploitation.

He explained that Indonesia had 3.3 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, while estimated production was 800,000 barrels per day.

"It could be a bit longer, because our production will decline. Next year, our oil production will decline to 700,000 bpd," Arcandra said in Jakarta on Monday, as quoted by kontan.co.id.

He stressed that the development of new technology to pump more oil from existing fields and to discover new oil reserves were the only ways for Indonesia to prolong its oil production.

Arcandra explained that the existing technology would only allow for lifting between 40 and 50 percent of the oil reserves. "There is no technology that can lift more. As long as our citizens cannot find new technology, we cannot produce more oil than that."

Arcandra said Indonesia's proven oil reserves were only 0.2 percent of the global proven oil reserves, while Indonesia's reserve replacement ratio (RRR) was only 50 percent, meaning the finding of new oil reserves was only half of the oil being lifted.

"Meanwhile, in our neighboring countries, the RRR reaches up to 100 percent," he added. Arcandra said Indonesia's gas reserves were much better, for they could still be exploited for 25 to 50 years. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/27/indonesias-proven-oil-reserves-to-last-just-12-years-arcandra.html

Ministry struggles to achieve target of building 1.9 million gas

Jakarta Post - March 25, 2018

Jakarta – The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has acknowledged that it can only build less than half of its targeted 1.9 million gas pipelines to cover the household gas network until 2019 due to red tape.

The ministry's secretary-general, Ego Syahrial, said it had only managed to build 350,000 pipelines as of now, while planning for an additional 78,513 this year and 200,000 in 2019. The ministry's goal by 2019 is to build 628,513 gas pipelines in total.

Ego said as quoted by kontan.co.id that long and complicated bureaucratic procedures and conflicting interests between institutions on the ground had made the task difficult to execute.

Despite the possibility of falling short of the target, Ego said the current pipelines were more than sufficient to fulfill domestic needs as consumers switched from liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to the household gas network because of them.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said LPG consumption stood at 6.5 million tons a year, 4.5 million tons of which were fulfilled through imports. (dpk/gda)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/25/ministry-struggles-to-achieve-target-of-building-1-9-million-gas-pipelines.html

Economy & investment

Import permits now obtainable in one day, minister vows

Jakarta Post - March 28, 2018

Bogor, West Java – The government has slashed some bureaucratic procedures for the issuance of licenses and for documentation requirements at the customs office to facilitate import and export activities. The processing time for permits used to import materials for exported goods had been cut to just one hour from the previous 30 days, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday. The licensing process for stocking goods in bonded zones is also cut to one hour from the previous 10 days.

"As for the issuance of identification numbers for importers, we can now do it in three days instead of the previous 10 days," she said during a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and custom facilities users in Cileungsi, Bogor, West Java.

She guaranteed that tax refunds could now be processed within one month instead of one year. President Jokowi had himself lamented the long wait for tax refunds, based on his own experience when he was a businessman.

"Pak President used to say that the refund could take more than a year, he had been through this himself. Now it is one month," Sri Mulyani said.

She added that licenses for operations in bonded zones now required the submission of just three documents instead of the previous 45. The process now could be done online. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/03/28/import-permits-now-obtainable-in-one-day-minister-vows.html

Analysis & opinion

The other country crucial to global climate goals: Indonesia

The Diplomat - March 28, 2018

Nithin Coca – When it comes to global climate issues, attention this past year has focused on the United States' decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, or China and India's rapid shifts to clean energy.

Meanwhile, the world's other major greenhouse gas emitter is being ignored. Indonesia, a country that, depending on the scale of its now-seasonal fires, can be the world's third to sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has done little to implement policies that would enable it to meet its already weak Paris agreement goals.

In fact, many of its actions are pushing the country in the opposite direction, toward greater emissions. This includes government plans to build over 100 coal-fired power plants alongside the push to expand palm oil production and increase local biofuel consumption. Factor in the massive expansion of a car-centric transportation infrastructure, including new highways across the archipelago, booming air travel, a growing middle class, and, unlike many of its Asian neighbors, very little investment in renewables, and you have the recipe for a climate disaster.

It's not just Indonesia's fault – the failure to scale up climate finance has meant that programs meant to stem deforestation have yet to bear fruit. Indonesia's failure, since Paris, to address its emissions, could have global ramifications and if things continue on the business-as-usual path, critically damage global climate goals.

"Indonesia is too big to fail when it comes to climate because it is such a big emitter... because of deforestation and peat burning," said Jonah Busch with the Center for Global Development. "It certainly makes it a lot harder to meet international climate goals if you have such a big emitter that [has] continued its big emissions."

Indonesia's global importance

Indonesia is a country that, despite its size and regional importance, regularly is forgotten or ignored on the global stage. This applies to climate issues as well. Despite its important role in the global fight against climate change, it gets little attention compared to other major emitters. Part of the reason is due to the uniqueness of its emissions. The other countries mentioned above are major emitters due to energy use, transportation, or air travel, the key focus of most international climate attention thus far.

"In climate in general, forests are underappreciated, not given enough attention, and marginalized in policy," said Busch. "When a lot of people think about climate and greenhouse gas emissions, they only think about emissions from fossil fuels."

On the global scale, forests matter, and land use is responsible for about a quarter of global emissions, with Indonesia the undisputed leader in this category. Yet, while the United States' withdrawal from the Paris Agreement last year made headlines, as do India and China's commitments and actions, Indonesia has drawn little attention, and that's a problem. Jakarta arguably matters more. The U.S. withdrawal from Paris was a blow, but state and regional-level action likely means the country will still achieve its climate goals, and both India and China are actually on pace to blow past their commitments. Indonesia, however, has made little progress, with emissions still growing.

According to an analysis from the World Resources Institute, the country must make major changes if it is to have any hope of meetings its climate goals: an unconditional 26 percent reduction in emissions as compared to business-as-usual by 2030, which rises to 41 percent with international support. Indonesia needs to cut land-based emissions by about 80 percent to have any chance to achieve that goal.

"World leaders recognized the crucial role of forests in climate change mitigation in the Paris climate agreement and pledged to halt deforestation by 2020," said Ratri Kusumohartono, forest campaigner with Greenpeace Indonesia. "However, in spite of these commitments, the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests... shows no sign of slowing down."

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is partly to blame. His administration has not taken forest protection seriously enough, focusing instead on economic development. This leads to some worrisome discrepancies. After the 2015 fires, Jokowi made some positive moves, such as creating a Peatland Restoration Agency, and, last year, extending the 2011 Deforestation Moratorium put in place by his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. At the same time, he is pushing forward with plans to build over one million hectares of palm oil and sugar plantations in Papua. His government has also been fighting against the European Union's proposal to limit palm oil biofuel imports because evidence shows they do little to combat climate change due to – yes – deforestation and fires. His positive moves are more than negated by these steps, along with the evidence that deforestation is continuing mostly unabated.

Untapped potential

The lack of action means that Indonesia has also fallen behind several developing nations in tackling climate change. This includes Brazil, which was, until 2014, the leading emitter of land-based emissions in the world, due to the rampant deforestation of the Amazon. But since the turn of the millennium, the country has made remarkable progress, mostly due to actions taken under then President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. There is much that Indonesia could learn from what took place in its similarly tropical, energy-hungry South American counterpart.

"You can't say it's impossible to reduce deforestation; you have this example of another country that has done it. If one country can do it, [Indonesia] can do it," said Busch.

It's not just India and Brazil that are leading the way. As mentioned above, China is dramatically cutting back on coal consumption; India is leading on solar. Even smaller neighbors are steaming ahead. Thailand's solar industry is booming, and even Bangladesh has installed rooftop solar systems on over 3.5 million homes. There is no reason that Indonesia, with its large, growing economy cannot be replicating these models to reduce emissions and build up its clean energy portfolio.

If things continue as planned, Indonesia's emissions could be much, much worse, with potentially disastrous consequences for the global environment. As an emerging economy, Indonesia has rapidly growing energy demands, but currently, it plans to meet future demand through the building of dozens of coal-fired power plants. Furthermore, its fast growing transportation sector is necessitating imports of more oil and natural gas. As the United States grows its domestic oil industry and China reduces is dependency on imports, Indonesia could become the world's largest oil importer as soon as 2019. It is also projected to become a net importer of natural gas by 2020. If Indonesia fails to stem deforestation and continues with a coal, gas, and oil dependent energy infrastructure, its emissions could skyrocket.

Indonesia's size makes it crucial to the global climate. Quite simply, there is no hope without action in the archipelago. Right now the focus is on forests, but in the future, its energy usage could be just as important. The other risk is, of course, to Indonesia's economy. If its neighbors move toward clean energy and Jakarta sticks to coal, gas, and oil, the costs to public health and the environment could be huge. A study from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) echoed that fear. The irony would be that Jokowi's economic development plans could actually fail if they don't consider the costs of sticking to dirty energy.

"Renewable energy is already cheaper than coal in many markets around the world, and Indonesia can benefit hugely from this trend," said Yulanda Chung with IEEFA in a press statement. "We think Indonesian planners are far less ambitious than they could be in development of solar, especially, and that a more progressive and modern approach would be in the best economic interest of the country."

In fact, Indonesia is well endowed and could make a shift. It has ample sun, wind, wave, and geothermal energy potential, and there are some small, nascent signs of hope. Some lawmakers are pushing for better legislation to promote renewable energy. There is even a Green Economy Caucus in Parliament that wants to promote sustainable development. But they are far too small, and lacking in ambition.

Meanwhile, international support to protect forests might finally be coming, as the Green Climate Fund is preparing to begin financing projects, and Indonesia could be – at long last – ready to tap into $800 billion dollars in emissions reductions payments from Norway, which was pledged in 2010.

For now, though, Indonesia's forests are still being cut down, and it is lagging behind nearly all of its neighbors in adopting clean energy. If things don't change, the world's most ignored big emitter could be the one that dooms the global climate.

[Nithin Coca is a freelance writer and journalist who focuses on cultural, economic, and environmental issues in developing countries. Follow him on Twitter @excinit.]

Source: https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/the-other-country-crucial-to-global-climate-goals-indonesia/

What will Jokowi's legacy be in climate change?

Jakarta Post - March 26, 2018

Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – Indonesia will have its next presidential election in April next year, which will also mark the end of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's first term.

While there's still one year left before the next election, political debates have dominated talks in the nation.

Climate talks, however, remain tragically absent as policymakers are busy trying to hold on to their powers through political maneuvers, despite the fact that Indonesia is one of the largest greenhouse gas-producing countries in the world, largely due to deforestation, peatland degradation and forest fires.

What politicians, including Jokowi, forget is that the fate of the people they're supposed to be serving depends on whether we manage to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Indonesia is among the countries with the highest risk of being affected by climate change as many of its islands could disappear from rising sea levels.

A government official last year said Indonesia had already lost 29,000 hectares of land due to rising sea levels in the northern part of Java Island and other regions, about the size of Hawaii's Honolulu. And if the government doesn't act fast, we could also lose Jakarta, the capital city from where it rules the country.

Jakarta is sinking so fast that it could end up underwater due to rising sea levels and more extreme weather brought by climate change. At the same time, locals illegally drain groundwater because they are facing a shortage of water supply, further sinking the capital. As a result, about 40 percent of Jakarta now lies below sea level.

Jakarta is also on the brink of water crisis, akin to what's happening in South Africa's Cape Town, which is in the grip of a drought that could bring it to become the first city in the world to run out of water.

Prolonged drought caused by climate change might escalate the risk of a water crisis in Jakarta. All this begs the question, why does the government treat climate change like an afterthought?

In order to successfully mitigate the impact of climate change, one needs to have robust and strong climate policies.

Yet, Indonesia's existing climate policies have been criticized for not being strong enough, especially compared to other top emitters like India, which is set to take a global leadership position in the transportation sector following its government announcement to ban the sales of diesel and petrol-powered vehicles by 2030, thus allowing only electric cars to operate in the country.

As a top carbon emitter, Indonesia has pledged to reduce its emissions growth by at least 29 percent over business-as-usual levels by 2030. That means it can emit no more than 2 gigatons of carbon dioxide that year.

But an analysis by Washington-based think tank World Resources Institute (WRI) shows that barring no drastic measures, Indonesia will miss its emissions reduction target.

According to the analysis, even if Indonesia fully implements its existing policies in the land-use and energy sectors, the country will only slash its carbon emissions by 19 percent, a far cry from the country's target of 29 percent emissions reduction.

Indonesia's target has also been criticized for not being stringent enough. Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis tracking climate action, gives Indonesia's commitment an "insufficient" rating as it's not consistent with holding warming to below 2 degrees, let alone limiting it to 1.5 degrees.

Indonesia's efforts to achieve its climate target are also deemed to be weak. In the latest Climate Change Performance Index, an instrument which evaluates and compares the climate protection performance, Indonesia ranked 37th out of 56 countries and the European Union, falling under the classification of "low-performing country" because of its high deforestation rate and lack of bold action to phase out fossil fuels.

Indonesia's energy policy is filled with contradictions. On one hand, the government wants to promote renewable energy. But at the same time, it also wants to continue to rely on coal as its main energy source.

While Indonesia aims to boost the use of renewable energy in power generation by 2025, increasing its portion in the energy mix from 12 percent in 2017 to 23 percent in 2025, coal will remain the primary source for energy in the country with 54.4 percent in 2025.

Worse yet, the government plans to shift its focus to using coal again after 2025, increasing the portion of coal in the energy mix to 58.5 percent by 2027, according to a recent report by The Jakarta Post.

Indonesia's coal policy is at odds with the rest of the world. Globally, a coal phase-out campaign is gaining momentum, supported by commitments from 34 countries and sub-national entities.

As a result, only seven countries initiated new coal power construction at more than one location in 2017. And yes, Indonesia is one of them.

Indonesia's continued reliance on coal will lock the country in a high-carbon economy and threaten to derail its climate policies and actions.

As Jokowi approaches the end of his first term, he has the power to make a decision that might serve as a turning point of his leadership.

Does he want to end his leadership with weak climate policies that left his people at the mercy of extreme weather and rising sea levels brought by climate change? Or does he want to make climate change his top priority to protect the lives of the hundreds of millions of people he has sworn to lead and to protect? Does he want to be a climate leader not only for Indonesia, but also for other countries threatened by climate change?

It's not too late for Jokowi to put stronger climate policies in place by curbing the deforestation rate, phasing out dirty fossil fuels and ushering a new era of low-carbon development, among other things.

Indonesia has many untapped opportunities, especially in renewable energy, that it can harness. With its large amounts of hydropower, Indonesia has the potential to generate 788,000 megawatts of electricity through new and renewable energy.

A 2017 report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) also shows that Indonesia can afford to cancel at least nine coal projects as the country's future electricity demand growth has been greatly overestimated. Failure to do so will force Indonesia to pay for energy it's not using for decades.

And Indonesia could also do more to curb deforestation rate and plant trees, which soak up carbon dioxide as they grow, so much so that it is considered to have the single largest potential for storing carbon of any land-based natural climate solution.

According to data from the government, there are 24.3 million ha of degraded land out of 190 million ha of forest areas in Indonesia.

The government aims to rehabilitate 12 million ha of degraded land by 2030, or 800,000 ha per year. Yet, our state budget only allocates enough money to reforest 200,000 to 300,000 ha of degraded lands per year. And there hasn't been any information on how much progress has been made in the reforestation program.

But since limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100 would involve removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reforestation is an essential component of climate change mitigation that the government can't ignore.

Lastly, the government could strengthen its forest moratorium to further curb the deforestation rate. Currently, the moratorium only applies to new licenses on "primary" forests and peat swamps.

Critics of the moratorium say it is poorly enforced and that it should also cover all forests, not just primary forests. A primary forest is an ancient forest, as opposed to a "secondary" regenerating one.

By improving enforcement and renewing the moratorium through 2030, we can reduce emissions by 188 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to the WRI. Expanding the moratorium to include both secondary forest and forested areas already licensed out to developers could further reduce emissions by 427 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2030.

But time is ticking fast. Some experts believe we only have two years left to take drastic actions on climate change before the goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement become almost unattainable. And while progress in renewable energy has been made, new data released by the International Energy Agency revealed that carbon emissions from the use of energy rose again by 1.4 percent in 2017, after three flat years.

The rise in carbon emissions was spurred by an increase in fossil fuel demand last year, including the global coal demand which rose by 1 percent after a two-year decline. Therefore, Indonesia should act immediately and aim for 1.5 degrees if it wants a chance to survive.

Currently, Jokowi is focusing on developing the country's economy and building infrastructure all over the archipelago to help develop underserved and remote regions. But all of Jokowi's efforts to bolster Indonesia's economy and people's welfare will be for naught if he ignores climate change, as there will be no jobs on a dead planet. (kes)

[Born in Indonesia, Hans Nicholas Jong is a Jakarta-based environmental journalist. Before joining mongabay.com in 2017, Hans worked for The Jakarta Post for five years. Having covered a wide range of issues from the elections to the economy, Hans found his passion in the environment. Being surrounded by people who dedicated their lives to protecting the environment fueled Hans' interests and desire to write about the complexities of environmental issues in Indonesia and other countries.]

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2018/03/26/what-will-jokowis-legacy-be-in-climate-change.html

Punks are not dead in Indonesia, they've turned to Islam

The Conversation - March 23, 2018

Hikmawan Saefullah – The punk movement is notable for its anti-establishment stance and distinct music and fashion style. Starting in the 1970s in the UK and US, the subculture became global and took different forms in each local setting.

In Indonesia, punk bands started to emerge in the 1990s. They were central in nurturing leftist activism during the years leading up to the fall of Soeharto.

But, interestingly, in the years following the fall of the New Order regime, some of these "bad boys" have transformed into a group of pious people. They've built a new generation of punk subculture they call Islamic punk.

Early years of punk in Indonesia

Between 1996 and 2001, the underground music scenes in Java, Sumatera and Bali became an important centre for radical left activism.

Local punks adopted leftist ideologies, such as socialism and anarchism, to challenge the authoritarian New Order regime. The ideology soon became dominant in the local music scene with the emergence of punk collectives with leftist views, such as the Anti-Fascist Front in Bandung, West Java, and the Anti-Oppression Front in Surabaya, East Java.

Sharing a vision to replace the authoritarian system with a democratic system, the local punk groups worked together with a prominent left-wing student organisation, the People's Democratic Party (PRD).

Despite their relatively small numbers, these groups strongly influenced the development of activism within the underground music scene.

The rise of pious punks

The face of punk in Indonesia today has changed dramatically from the late 1990s. Islamic punks started to emerge after the fall of Soeharto's dictatorship in the 1998.

Punk Muslim represents the new face of the punk movement in Indonesia. Street punks Budi Khaironi, Bowo and humanitarian activist Ahmad Zaki formed the band in 2007.

Punk Muslim works to empower street kids in the slum areas of Jakarta by providing religious education and social protection, and making them participate in social activism.

They also fight against punks' negative stereotypes through religious activities to help their members reintegrate into mainstream society. "Because of their tattoos, many of them have issues in applying for a job and being accepted by the society," said Zaki.

The fans of Punk Muslim have expanded to Surabaya, Bandung, and Bogor, Depok, and Bekasi in West Java. Apart from playing music, they also try to balance their routines by reading the Qur'an, attending sermons and proselytising on the streets.

Besides Punk Muslim, other punk groups include The Fourty's Accident (Surabaya), Ketapel Jihad (Depok), Anti-Mammon (Bogor) and Melody Maker (Jakarta). Other Jakarta-based bands include Tengkorak, Kodusa and Purgatory, which are linked to an underground music group that adopts Islam as its ideological basis, One Finger Movement or Komunitas Salam Satu Jari.

Not only about conservatism

Dutch anthropologist Martin van Bruinessen refers to the increasing religiosity among punks in Indonesia as a "conservative turn".

My research supports Bruinessen's view. However, in my article, Nevermind the Jahiliyyah, here's the Hijrahs: punk and the religious turn in the contemporary Indonesian underground scene, published in Punk & Post-Punk, I also suggest that the emergence of Islamic punks is not simply due to religious radicalisation.

Indonesia's turn to Islamic conservatism – marked by the 2005 fatwa or edict issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) against secularism, liberalism and pluralism – did contribute to the Islamic punk emergence. From my research, many Indonesian punks took refuge in Islam following the fatwa.

But the perception that the emergence of the Islamic punks is only due to growing "Islamic radicalisation" among Indonesian youths is rather weak.

Rather, the emergence of Islamic punks in Indonesia's post-authoritarian era is the result of a combination of state repression, commercialism and increasing religious conservatism.

The government's control before and after the reform era weakened leftist ideology in Indonesia. Arrests of leftist activists on sedition charges deterred leftist groups, including punks, from showing off their political leaning.

Meanwhile, commercialisation has transformed punk's "Do It Yourself" (DIY) ethos into a profit-making tool, as noted by anthropologists like Brent Luvaas and Sean Martin-Iverson.

"All hardcore punk scenes seem to only have one mission: to entertain audiences and sell merchandise," said Dani Tremor, the vocalist of Bandung-based punk band Milisi Kecoa.

Thus, with threats from the state and the market, the punk movement in Indonesia lost its leftist ideological foundation. This gave rise to a new kind of punk, one that's driven more by conservative Islamic teachings.

Different level of conservatism

Like other Islamist movements, the Islamic punk collectives have different positions on various topics, including democracy.

Punk Muslim, for instance, considers the democratic system as haram (forbidden in Islamic law), even though this does not apply in case of an emergency. "If we don't vote for the Muslim leaders, then the winners will be non-Muslims," said Aik of Punk Muslim.

Jakarta-based Islamic trash metal band GUNxROSE, which is associated with Muslim hardline group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, completely refuses to participate in the democratic system on the grounds that democracy is contradictory to Islam.

The Islamic punk movement in Indonesia is more conservative than their counterparts in different part of the world. Members of Punk Muslim and One Finger Movement are generally hostile to liberal interpretations of Islam.

They despise leftist thoughts and LGBT communities, and adopt a sectarian position towards Shia and Ahmadiyyah. They also consider the liberal approach to Islam of the American Muslim punk scene Taqwacore as "un-Islamic".

The pendulum of the punk scene in Indonesia has moved from left to predominantly right. This transformation shows the organic nature of Indonesia's punk movement, which is easily affected by the social, political and economic changes in the post-New Order era.

[Hikmawan Saefullah is a lecturer at the Department of International Relations, FISIP, Universitas Padjadjaran.]

Source: http://theconversation.com/punks-are-not-dead-in-indonesia-theyve-turned-to-islam-93136

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